Biokitsch in Art: And the Survival of the Prettiest

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterScientificpeer-review


Today’s and tomorrow’s biotechnology developments are opening up many possibilities for modifying organisms, including the development of new visual appearances. Even when the contemporary focus of biotechnology is primarily on the functional side, which is offering us (humans) useful applications in various fields, one cannot help pondering the possibilities for novel aesthetics in organisms’ appearances, but also reasons for making certain choices over others—and what these choices imply. The article focuses on the relationship between kitsch and biological living organisms, especially through investigating the recent practices and growing interest in bioart and biotech arts. These provide relevant examples and include examples from cultural history. In the field of the visual arts and humanities, artists working with biological and biotech arts are at the forefront of understanding with a wide perspective the potentialities and the societal implications of science and technology developments. Artistic projects emerging from biological and biotech arts are often presented with aesthetics adopted from laboratories and scientific experiments; they incorporate petri dishes, glassware, hardware components, and clinical machine parts. Among the numerous artworks with these kinds of typical laboratory aesthetics are also examples that stand out with their different aesthetics, which, when looked at from a traditional high-art perspective, could be seen in the light of the definition of kitsch. Kitsch is commonly claimed to attest to “poor taste,” excessive cuteness, or sentimentality. However, when these artworks are investigated through a wider societal perspective, the works seem to have additional layers which affect, challenge, and play with kitsch aspects.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Changing Meaning of Kitsch
Subtitle of host publicationFrom Rejection to Acceptance
EditorsMax Ryynänen, Paco Barragán
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-031-16632-7
ISBN (Print)978-3-031-16631-0
Publication statusPublished - 26 Apr 2023
MoE publication typeA3 Book section, Chapters in research books


  • Kitsch
  • Bioart
  • Nature-culture
  • Environment
  • Biokitsch


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