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Emerging: Ira Melkonyan (Malta)

Mixing ingredients has always enticed me. I seek combinations which create new tastes and scents. Meet Ira. She is a curious cook, preparing a bowl of science, art and philosophy, soon to be whisked.

what is bio art?
It is an art form that employs living materials (like bacteria or transgenic organisms) or more traditional art materials to comment on, or transform, biotechnological practice. I also like the quote that it is a logical and consequent new media usage by artists, in the sense that “computers and games were new media of 1960s and 70s, digital technology and Internet one of 90s” biotechnological and live cells practices become the top discoveries of current society therefore it is only normal that artists become more interested in it as they always mirror the cutting edge innovation of the society. (a quote from Kennedy, Randy. “The Artists in the Hazmat Suits.” New York Times, 3 July 2005, sec. Arts. I/Mitchell, Robert. Bioart and the Vitality of Media. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2010)

who is Ira?
I come from Odessa, Ukraine. I have a Master’s Degree in Microbiology. I currently live in Malta where I am a performer and a researcher within a multidisciplinary art collective. I also studied philosophy and art history at the European College of Liberal Arts in Berlin to support my transdisciplinary inclinations and interests.

what is bioartira?
This is my space for storing discoveries in the subject of crossing disciplines of science and art. It is my personal research.

how where you introduced to the subject?
I was contemplating and reflecting for a long time on how to merge the two lines of my personal development. As they weren’t obviously related, for long I felt that I have to make a clear choice between my art and science practices. Nevertheless, I had strong interest towards both and didn’t want to give up neither. I don’t remember a distinct moment when I discovered bioart for myself. It was definitely in Berlin. The whole city, my experience of it and my college played an important role in this self-discovery. I felt like the whole city is bubbling with all those crazy mixtures of disciplines and practices, the words like “multi-“ and “crossdisciplinary” are part of one’s everyday vocabulary there. So I finally felt “normal” there that I have two different yet parallel trajectories in my life. Then one of the internet searches brought me the term bioart and I got interested.

do you have any bubbling experiments in your mind which you’d like to test?
I guess the bubbling experiment for now is to master this practice of joining performance and science. Nothing concrete yet but I feel there is great potential and it excites me.

how would you like to bridge these two practices?
That’s what I have to discover! I am already doing textual research and seeing what others did in this field. We are working on a science-topic performance installation right now. But I want to push it further in the following months…we’ll see where it will lead me, to academia or some crazy science-based theatre!

how can your practice as a scientist inform your art and how can your practice as an artist inform your scientific research?
As I said, it is still new for me and needs more discovering. All this is stored and processed with the same brain, therefore I am sure they are interrelated and affect each other, at least in the way I perceive and deal with the information or inspiration impulses. For example, I find all the laboratory and scientific environment very aesthetically appealing, and it can have an effect on my vision in arts as well.


Find more about the research Ira has been doing on her website

She is on a journey, picking ingredients for her experiments.


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Rebecca Camilleri (b.1986) is a movement artist and teacher, performer and research writer currently based in Malta. Initially studying psychology at University in Malta, Camilleri decided to move to UK,where she set herself up to pursue a more liberal form of education. Camilleri graduated from Dartington College of Arts in Choreography and Visual Arts Practices in 2010. During this period she also studied at Hochschule fur Schauspielkunst ‘Ernst Busch’, Berlin. In 2011, Camilleri was awarded a place on the 5 week residency danceWEB Scholarship Programme within the frame of ImPulsTanz –Vienna International Dance Festival. She is a performer and research writer within the multi-disciplinary artist collective rubberbodies, devising methodologies and approaches towards performance based art. Camilleri works as a visiting assistant lecturer in the Dance Studies department at the University of Malta and is a Region Editor of Contemporary Performance Network.

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