Self-Care: Seeking Queer Liberation from the Medical Gaze and Genetic Fatalism


  • Lyndsey Walsh Humboldt University of Berlin, Department of Experimental Biophysics, Berlin, Germany



BRCA1; breast cancer; bioart; medical gaze; genetic diagnostics; queering the body.


Genetic diagnostics are radically and rapidly changing perceptions of health. Individuals with identifiable pathogenic genetic differences are now being made into cultural mutants. Unlike other forms of embodied difference, these diagnostics rely on a high statistical probability of developing a disease, known as genetic risk. As such, individuals with a mutation are often subjected to perform the same clinical labor as those who are already sick with a disease, which can involve invasive medical surveillance, preventative surgeries, and family planning. Self-Care is my artistic attempt to reckon with these biotechnological ruptures in identity caused by the rising use of genetic diagnostics in medicine. Using my body, Self-Care weaves a narrative about health, gender, and identity that seeks to resist the confines of the medical gaze. The work features a specially designed chest binder housing living BRCA1 mutant breast cancer cells, which allows the artist to take on the caring responsibilities of their cancer before it emerges in their body. Building off the artwork, this paper explores contemporary issues surrounding Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer Syndrome in global healthcare systems. Traversing the boundaries between sick and healthy, male and female, and parent and child, this paper sets out to both present the scholarly research surrounding Self-Care and provide a platform of critical self-reflection for the artwork to question how best we can care for ourselves and others.

Author Biography

Lyndsey Walsh, Humboldt University of Berlin, Department of Experimental Biophysics, Berlin, Germany

Lyndsey Walsh is an American artist, designer, writer, and researcher based in Berlin, Germany. Lyndsey has a bachelor’s degree in Individualized Studies from New York University and a master’s degree in Biological Arts with Distinction from SymbioticA Centre of Excellence in Biological Arts at the University of Western Australia. Lyndsey is enthralled by the creatures emerging from the spaces in between and crossing over the imaginary, the becoming, and reality. Their work explores the instability surrounding the cultural and social aspects of disease, identity, the body, death, human and non-human relationships, and speculative narratives on the future. Currently, Lyndsey is a visiting scholar and researcher with the Department of Experimental Biophysics at Humboldt University of Berlin in collaboration with the UniSysCat Cluster of Excellence, and they guest lectured at various institutions and universities around the world.

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How to Cite

Walsh, L. (2023). Self-Care: Seeking Queer Liberation from the Medical Gaze and Genetic Fatalism. AM Journal of Art and Media Studies, (32), 53–67.