DNA on EBAY

 

 

2002, 

materials: Vial, DNA, ebay, suspension liquids.

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vial of DNA of Cynthia Verspaget which was extracted using common kitchen items and placed for sale on EBay.

The sale was removed after 2 hours by EBay's moderators and legal department due to the EBay policy of the sale of prohibited goods. 

It is legal for Bio companies to trade and sell human tissues - the same does not apply to an individuals right to sell their own tissue.

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DNA on Ebay was a project to attempt to engage dialogue amongst policy makers and policy supporters (commerce etc) regarding the various protocols (often at odds with each other) in bio commerce. It ultimately attempts to force science into the context of domesticity.

The project, which consisted of the placement of a Vial of my own DNA on EBay for sale, did instigate an opportunity to discuss the concept of "prohibited goods" and ownership of the body in relation to the definitions that exist about bodily boundaries, with the staff at Ebay.  Our discussions led to a place where an understanding was reached about the inconsistencies that exist with in perceptions of bio materials, bodily boundaries as challengable and the position of the medicalised body in our culture.  

While it is prohibited to sell 'body parts' including DNA, on EBay, it is not prohibited to sell human hair on EBay (which may contain extractable DNA within the hair roots).  EBay's myriad of policy is set up to "protect the individual from [medical] exploitation" and it is under this banner that DNA on Ebay item was decided. Although there no precedent under this policy for the placement of such an item for sale which was consensual and of theoretical and artistic cultural significance,  the DNA vial was be removed in order "to protect EBay and the seller" (Myself). 

The implications of these policies, positions and dialogue give us insight into the intricate web of complicated issues in  Bio-Piracy, Bio-Commerce, bodily boundaries, consensual sharing and public perception.

 

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