OktoLab participant Jayson Semmens

Bio and artist statement

Jayson Semmens is a marine biologist/ecologist at the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania. For nearly 30 years he has been researching cephalopods (octopus, squid and cuttlefish). He is interested in how they can eat so much, grow so fast and die so young. They also fascinate him. They are very intelligent, curious and never cease to amaze. He has spent many an hour just watching them and they have often watched him back. Out of this fascination grew this collection of ‘artefacts’, often discovered on holidays overseas or given as gifts to him or his family by friends and colleagues. Each one has a story and as he looks at them on his desk or at home, they remind him of the various stages of his career and his love and fascination for the group called head (ceph) foot (poda).

» Jayson Semmens at UTAS


OktoLab participant Martin Ullrich

Martin Ullrich

Martin Ullrich studied piano at the Frankfurt University of Music and Performing Arts and at the College of Fine Arts of Fine Arts in Berlin, as well as aural theory and music science at the College of Fine Arts in Berlin. In 2005 he received his PhD in musicology. His main research topics are the music of Robert Schumann, the theory of popular music and the relation of music and digital media. His particular interest is the role of music in relation to the interdisciplinary field of Human-Animal Studies. He is a member of various interdisciplinary research groups related to research on human-animal relations and of the editorial board of journal Tierstudien. He has published on animal music and the relation between human music and animal sounds.

Martin Ullrich taught music theory and aural theory at the Rostock University of Music and Drama, as well as at the College of Fine Arts in Berlin. From 2005 to 2013 (since 2009 on leave) he was professor for music theory at the College of Fine Arts Berlin. Since 2013 he has been professor for interdisciplinary music research with a particular focus on Human-Animal Studies at the Nuremberg University of Music. As part of this professorship, he is developing innovative theoretical, historical and in particular interdisciplinary approaches at the interface of scientific and artistic research for teaching and works towards establishing an international research network in the field of Human-Animal Studies.

From 2009 to 2017, Martin Ullrich was head of the Nuremberg University of Music and from 2011 to 2017 chairperson of the principle conference of German music universities in the HRK. Since vacating his position as head of the conference he has become full time professor at the Nuremberg University of Music.

» Martin Ullrich on the Hochschule fuer Musik Nuernberg


OktoLab participant Susan Richardson

Susan Richardson

Susan Richardson is a Wales-based poet, performer and educator whose work celebrates and defends animals and wild places, reconnecting our imaginations to them and forging meaningful connections with the more than human world. Her fourth collection of poetry, Words the Turtle Taught Me (Cinnamon Press, 2018), is themed around endangered marine species and it emerged from her recent residency with the Marine Conservation Society. She is currently poet-in-residence with both the global animal welfare initiative, World Animal Day, and the British Animal Studies Network, facilitated by the University of Strathclyde. Susan has performed on BBC 2, Radio 4 and at festivals both nationally and internationally. She co-edits Zoomorphic, the digital literary magazine that publishes work in celebration and defence of wild animals.

» Susan Richardson


OktoLab participant Neozoon

Artist: NEOZOON | Title: CEPHALIZATION | Medium/Material(s): Video Installation | Dimensions: variable | Date: 2019 – 2020 | Image courtesy NEOZOON / Courtesy the artist

Artist statement


Tell me, O Octopus, I begs

Is those things arms, or is they legs?

I marvel at thee, Octopus;

If I were thou, I'd call me Us. (Ogden Nash)


Neozoon, founded in 2009, is an anonymous collective of female artists based in Berlin and Paris. Human-animal relations are at the center of their artistic work, which is based on the principle of collage and examines sociological questions dealing with speciesism in the anthropocene. The group became known for their street art in public spaces in which, amongst others, worn out fur coats appeared as the silhouettes of animals on house walls. Recycling found footage is also a recurring element in their work, where the group often employs amateur videos from YouTube. Their cinematic work deals with contradictions in our daily contact with animals in language, practise and with the representational medialization of these interfaces.

NEOZOON poses contemporary and underrepresented questions and demonstrates perspectives that, contrary to conservative left-wing positions, are interested in the emancipation of all population groups and species, such as how agitational aesthetics can be brought into position against dominant worldviews and to what extent feminist art practice can be combined with anti-speciesist, anti-capitalist art practice.

Their work has been shown at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the HKW in Berlin, the Internationale Kurzfilmtage in Oberhausen, the ZKM in Karlsruhe and at the IFFR in Rotterdam.


OktoLab participant Burton Nitta

Artist: Burton Nitta (Michael Burton and Michiko Nitta) | Title: Altered Ways of Being | Medium/Material(s): Digital media, 360 film, VRDimensions: variable | Date: 2019 | All rights reserved © 2019 Burton Nitta

Artist statement

Artworks ask fundamental questions of ‘who are we’ and ‘where are we heading’ when transformed by technological and scientific developments. Responses to these questions manifest in speculative evolutionary changes to us and the wider world. Visions, objects, films and experiences explore the human-animal and offer an opportunity to taste alternative worlds and humanness.

Altered Ways of Being (2019)

In response to the work of the Okto-Lab and philosopher Peter Godfrey-Smith, we create a piece called Altered Ways of Being. The work begins as a mirror presented to us through the contrasting nature of the octopus. 

See with the skin, smell with suckers, change skin colour in response to your thoughts and sense the world with a brain distributed across the body. These abilities possessed by an octopus shape a mind that is possibly one of the most different non-human forms of intelligence to our own. Altered Ways of Being takes inspiration from the octopus to reveal links between our own human body and mind. The systems created in the work adapt our bodies to ask: by attempting to feel and experience the octopus, can we gain insights into our mind? How do minds and matter relate to each other? If we change our body with technology or the consequences of our actions, how might our mind also change?


Burton Nitta founded by Anglo-Japanese duo, Michael Burton and Michiko Nitta, is a transdisciplinary collaborative art practice.

The studio was initiated in 2009 after Burton and Nitta met at the Royal College of Art, London. Their works have received international awards and press coverage.

Previous projects such as Algaculture, The Algae Opera, Republic of Salivation and Instruments of the Afterlife are published and exhibited internationally from MoMA, New York to the V&A Museum, London.

Landscape Within, supported by a Wellcome Arts Award, was launched at the V&A in September 2016. It was made in collaboration with Dr Louise Horsfall and the Horsfall Lab at the University of Edinburgh and Dr Susan Hodgson from Imperial College London, to use synthetic biology tools and new epidemiology health science.

New Organs of Creation, made in 2019 in collaboration with Prof Lucy Di-Silvio and Dr Trevor Coward at Kings College London, made a prototype larynx organ grown using tissue engineering. The organ was designed to create low frequencies enabling the voice to speak directly to the body’s cells. A debut performance of a new composition for the voice by Matt Rogers was performed by Louise Ashcroft (mezzo-soprano) and David Sheppard (sound designer) to a full house at Science Gallery London. The project was supported by Arts Council England.


OktoLab participant Hörner/Antlfinger

Artist: Hörner/Antlfinger | Title: Oceanopolis_Aquarium | Medium/Material(s): Installation, light-boxes, photography, sound | Dimensions: Variable Date: 2019 | Image Courtesy Hörner/Antlfinger

Artist statement

Visiting Octopus (2019)

“Why look at Animals?“ John Berger asked in his famous essay from 1977, in which he analysed the estrangement of humans and animals in the culture of capitalism. His criticism of the zoo as a place in which non-human animals are reduced to exhibition objects is still read and shared today. Interestingly, aquariums were, for a long time, exempt from this criticism. Even the early aquarists criticised zoos as prisons, but were at the same time convinced that the aquarium was something completely different—namely a part of the sea.

Glass and its illusionistic characteristics play a central role in the power of this narrative. “In that the glassy medium presents a sectional cut through the water space, it creates (...) an ‘eye-to-eye’ perspective, ‘where a human observer sees marine life from within – that is, as if he were underwater with the creatures depicted, and therefore watching them at their own level’ (Mareike Vennen, Das Aquarium, 2018).”

In our contribution to Okto-Lab we enter into contact with individual octopods that live in environments designed and controlled by humans. In the sense of a multi-species ethnography we chronicle two interwoven narratives. Firstly, our own perception of the situation: the different actors, such as, for example, the glass mentioned before, the architecture, the visitors. Secondly we attempt a change of perspective, by seeing the world through the eyes of the octopods. For this we experiment with methods of obtaining insight that create a connectedness; in particular we work with mental techniques of empathy such as those used by shamans or animal communicators.


Ute Hörner and Mathias Antlfinger have been Professors of “Transmedial Spaces/Media Art” at the Academy of Media Arts Cologne since 2009. Their installations, videos and sculptures deal with the relationship between humans, animals and machines and the utopian vision of fair terms of interaction between these parties. Following their exploration of the social constructs that dictate human-animal relationships, their current focus is on how these constructs can be changed. Two protagonists who advised them on this question are the grey parrots Clara and Karl with whom they have carried out the interspecies collaboration CMUK since 2014.

Their works have been shown at international exhibitions and festivals including Museum Ludwig Cologne, ZKM Karlsruhe, Shedhalle Zuerich, National Museum of Fine Arts in Taiwan, Ars Electronica in Linz, Kunsthalle Düsseldorf, Werkleitz Biennale Halle, Kadirga Art Center (European Capital of Culture) Istanbul, Transmediale Berlin, NGBK Berlin, CCA Center for Contemporary Art, Tbilisi. Awards and grants include: Project Funding Kunststiftung NRW (2015), Honorary Mention, Prix Ars Electronica, Linz (2012), Project Funding from the Edith-Russ-Haus for Media Arts, Oldenburg (2010), 5. Marler Video-Installation-Award (2008), Project Funding Kunststiftung Sachsen-Anhalt, 7th Werkleitz-Biennale (2006), ars viva 00/01 – award for visual arts, Kulturkreis der deutschen Wirtschaft im BDI (2001) and Kunststiftung NRW (1998).

Hörner/Antlfinger have presentend at numerous conferences and symposia on both human-animal studies and media art. Since 2016 they are members of the Minding Animals Network.

» Hörner/Antlfinger or Contact


OktoLab participant mOwson&M0wson

Artist: mOwson&M0wson | Title: feeler | Medium/Material(s): Latex, string, hangers, LED light strips, electronics. | Dimensions: 3m x 3m | Date: 2019 | Image courtesy mOwson&M0wson

Artists statement

After mating, the female Octopus carries her eggs inside her, sometimes for months, and when the conditions are right, she will expel the eggs. She then gathers the eggs into groups, sometimes stitching them into braids before adhering them to a surface.  While she might eat for a few days after laying her eggs, she then enters a period of fasting while she stays with the eggs: protecting, touching, fanning and grooming.  This period of care can be lengthy - the longest documented to date is over four and a half years.  During this time the changes to her body are visible, her skin loses colour and definition, and she will die shortly after the eggs hatch.  While octopuses are currently raised for food from hatchlings and by-catches of the fishing industry, research is underway to fully intensify octopus farming - from mating to meat.


mOwson&M0wson comprises of the sculptor lynn mowson and sound/installation artist Bruce Mowson. This is their second project together, their first project speaking meat was initially shown at the exhibition ‘Why Listen to Animals?’ in Melbourne in 2016, and remains a work in progress. speaking meat presented three 'cuts of meat', modelled in wax, that produced three different bovine voices/personalities in conversation.

lynn mowson is a sculptor whose practice is driven by the entangled relationships between human and non-human animals in particular agricultural animals and those animals we consume. Her sculptural research is featured in Animaladies, Bloomsbury Press, 2018, The Animal Studies Journal, 2018, Antennae: The Journal of Nature in Visual Culture, 2018 and The Art of the Animal, Lantern Books, 2015. lynn is currently vice-chair of The Australasian Animal Studies Association.

Bruce Mowson's practices are founded on the experiences of sound and the body. Participation and the experience of the audience have been important to his explorations and research. In 2018 he created the participatory music experiment Three Twilights into Darkness, and in 2016 he produced a collaborative performance for Polyphonic Social and series of performative assemblages for the Festival of Live Art.


OktoLab participant Pony Express

Artist: Pony Express | Title: Tentacular Embassy | Medium/Material(s): Printed objects, framed knife display, customized life vests. | Dimensions: variable | Date: 2019 | Image courtesy Pony Express, developed from materials created with support from CONSTANCE ARI and Dr. Beth Fulton

Artist statement

Tentacular Embassy is a collection of propaganda generated by Pony Express's speculation into the possibility of tentacular thinking as a form of governance.  These works developed through several experiments, including the 2017 performance Tentaculum, in which Pony Express unleashed eight human bodies and one octopus body to occupy a working marine science laboratory as a merged entity.  What are the possibilities and limits of 9 brains working in non-hierarchical concert together?  What are the sovereign principles of life in Octlantis?  Through this work, Pony Express offer several key tenants borne from their experiences in cephalopod diplomacy.  To survive in the chthulucene, you place your life in many hands.  Concept developed in consultation with Dr. Beth Fulton through the program Welcome to the Anthropocene, CONSTANCE ARI.  


Pony Express is a collaborative duo led by performance maker Ian Sinclair and transdisciplinary artist Loren Kronemyer. Through their pandrogynous collaborative process, Pony Express work across platforms of media art, live art, video, and transdisciplinary research to create immersive alternate realities, presented across a diverse array of venues. Their work reflects themes of environment, apocalypse, and the future. 

Pony Express work by embedding themselves in the language and culture of emerging social movements, re-presenting them as spaces where audiences can explore and engage with possible speculative realities.  Their focus on queer futurism and nonhuman politics has led them to create worlds that trouble the ethical landscape of the present day.

Their artwork Ecosexual Bathhouse premiered at Next Wave Festival 2016 and continues to tour nationally and internationally. This work is a multi-chamber walk-through labyrinth that plunges participants into the realm of inter-species sexual signaling, probing the limits of evolution and inhibition.  Their current project Epoch Wars is bringing together an alternative geological council to debate the naming of Earth's coming era. 


OktoLab participant Jane Bamford

Jane Bamford

Jane began studying ceramics in Japan 1993. She subsequently completed a BFA, majoring in Ceramics at the Tasmanian College of the Arts, Hobart. Jane was selected as an Associate at the Jam Factory Craft and Design Centre in Adelaide in 1997 and has since exhibited in Australia and internationally. In 2018 she was selected as a finalist in the Waterhouse Natural Science Art Prize with a work examining climate change’s impact on Tasmanian marine environment and successively undertook an Art/Science residency at UTAS School of Creative Arts. She works from her studio at her coastal home south of Hobart, Tasmania.

Jane creates work over a range of ceramic processes including slab formed, hand built, slip cast and weaving. Much of her work is functional and highly designed and she also produces sculptural pieces, often incorporating an element or texture taken from, or observation of, the natural environment. Predominately made from porcelain clays, her work is primarily informed from research and observation of the coastal, marine and alpine landscapes of Tasmania. Her observation, connection to place and environmental awareness has led her to produce work on issues like climate change’s impact on Tasmanian marine environments and the reestablishment of Spotted Handfish spawning habitat.

In 2018 Jane began a commission with the CSIRO to design and make ceramic artificial spawning habitat (ASH) for the spotted handfish (Brachionichthys hirsutus). These installations of ASH were SCUBA deployed to support this critically endangered marine species. Creating ceramic ASH is a significant project which intersects her ceramic art practice with current scientific research and practice. In September 2018 there is news of the spotted handfish’s first wild spawning of the spotted handfish around ceramic ASH. It is rare that an arts practice has the opportunity to engage so directly with the natural environment in a manner that is beyond interpretive and has very real achievable positive ecological outcomes.

Image credit: Charles Chadwick


OktoLab participant Alexander Ziegler

Alexander Ziegler

Following a career in hotel management (1996-2000), Dr Ziegler studied Zoology, Botany, and Ecology at the Freie Universität Berlin in Germany (2000-2005), where he also conducted his PhD studies (2006-2008). After the conclusion of postdoctoral positions at the Charité-Universitätsmedizin Berlin (2009-2010), at Harvard University (2011-2012), and again at the Charité (2013-2014) he has been appointed group leader at the Universität Bonn. Since February 2015 he and his team have been working on the large-scale application of non-invasive imaging techniques such as magnetic resonance imaging and micro-computed tomography to a broad spectrum of zoological specimens. His current research foci include invertebrate anatomy and taxonomy, additive manufacturing, and correlative imaging using classical as well as digital imaging techniques.


OktoLab participant Erin Hortle

Erin Hortle

Erin Hortle is a Tasmanian-based writer of fiction and essay. Her writing explores the relationship between the human and more-than-human world. It has been published in a range of Tasmanian and Australian publications, and in 2017 she won the Young Writer’s Fellowship as a part of the Tasmanian Premier’s Literary Prizes. Her debut novel, The Octopus and I, is an eco-feminist literary work that tells the story of a breast cancer survivor’s fascination with the octopuses at Eaglehawk Neck. It will be published by Allen & Unwin in 2020.


OktoLab participant Mike Singe

Artist: Mike Singe | Title: Searching for Octopus in the Amazon | Medium/Material(s): Digital video | Duration: 11 minutes | Date: 2019 | Image courtesy of the artist

Artist Statement

Octopus have evolved to possess some impressive defence mechanisms, unparalleled camouflage and diversionary ink expulsion being two of their more distinctive. Given their unquestionable intelligence and impressive evolutionary track record could they develop the ultimate defence mechanism; the ability to retain the services of a lawyer.

Admittedly this would require octopus to overcome the significant hurdle of developing a language simple enough for humans to recognise and understand. If this were possible then the progression towards successful litigation, aided by ambitious members of the legal fraternity with an eye for glory and the potential for unimaginable financial returns, would be assured. Hard won cases for individual octopus rights would establish legal precedents. Companies would soon be left vulnerable to class actions seeking compensation for a variety of indiscretions. Civil lawsuits for breaches of copyright, intellectual property theft and other unpaid entitlements would inevitably give rise to criminal cases, ranging from sexual harassment (yes octopus porn is a thing), unlawful detainment and even murder.

Society would be changed forever as opportunistic octopus hired out their services as intermediaries between human and non-human animals. Ironically it would be a human invention, litigation, that would bring an end to the assumed right of humans to make decisions without consideration to the rights of all animals.

I admit that I probably read too much science fiction and I may have gotten a little carried away here. However, if you find yourself searching Amazon for your next cephalopod related purchase perhaps you should ask yourself if octopus would approve and if you know the name of a good lawyer.


Born in Perth Western Australia, Mike Singe received a Bachelor of Fine Art from Curtin University in 1990 and established a profile within the Perth art community before moving to Tasmania in 2009. His work is represented in major institutions including the Art Gallery of Western Australia, Murdoch University, Curtin University and the Kerry Stokes Collection. Singe has also been the recipient of multiple development grants through ArtsWA.

In 2009 he was awarded an Australian Postgraduate Award to undertake a Master of Fine Arts at the Tasmanian School of Art. The focus of this research, completed in 2011, into the shifting human behaviour and cultural systems in response to the climate change debate continues to inform his practice. Singe’s recent work expands upon this research through a focus on air as a material for investigation, particularly air in relation to human (animal) respiration. Every breath we take increases by 100 fold the carbon dioxide concentration of inhaled air. This represents an almost perfect metaphor for man made climate change and an opportunity to pervert the guilt inducing notion of “think global act local”.


OktoLab participant Madison Bycroft

Artist: Madison Bycroft | Title: Bureau of Neutrality and the Half sung (2016) | Medium/Material(s): Three Channel digital video, Colour, Sound, 23:00 | Date: 2016 | Image courtesy of the artist

Artist statement

Working in performance, video and sculpture, Bycroft explores the idea of 'pathos' - the activity and / or passivity of affect. What kind of poetics can help us side-step state-sanctioned sense and legibility? Bycroft is interested in negative forms of expression as a loitering tactic of refusal or deviation. The deadpan performance of a clam, the disguise of a mimic octopus, or the impersonations performed by some cuttlefish, for example, might refuse systems of legibility and thus invite a different relation through a negativity that doesn’t capture, define or limit things to normalised modes of understanding.

Mimicry, unknowability, shape shifting and ambivalent edges, floating, and the performance of gender are all middle voiced - active and passive at once. Could they form a grammar of a poulpe poetics? Being effected by an environment whilst actively reproducing it, both expressing it, and being expressed by it, fleeing a binary where this is this and that is that?

Bycroft practices an associative methodology, where solidarities or empathies can work across material, theoretical, sonic or intuited beyond easily articulated relationships. This is especially important when working with Non-human animal. How can we develop a form of empathy without domesticating or corralling difference into something that fits and is easily digestible.

What kind of empathy would yield to its subject - what kind of empathy is intransitive?


Madison Bycroft, b. 1987, Adelaide/Kaurna Yarta, Australia, is an artist currently based between Marseille and Rotterdam. Bycroft is a graduate from the MFA program at the Piet Zwart Institute in Rotterdam, NL (2016), and is a co-founder of facilitative platform, ‘GHOST'. International presentations include participation in 2019 Future Generation Art Prize at both the Pinchuk Art Centre in Kiev and satellite exhibition to the 58th Venice Biennale, Palais De Tokyo, (Paris, France), Rennes Biennale (Les Atelier de Rennes, France), Second Triennale of Beetsterzwag (Netherlands), Liveworks Performance Act Award (Trento, Italy), Sharjah Biennale, (Beirut, Lebanon), The Institute of Contemporary Art, (Singapore), CAC Brétigny, (Paris, France), Westfälischer Kunstverein (Muenster, Germany) Yellow Brick, (Athens, Greece) and The ISCP (Brooklyn, New York). Bycroft's Australian exhibitions have included Greenaway Gallery, The Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney (Primavera 2014), The Australian Centre for Contemporary Art in Melbourne, and The Australian Experimental Art Foundation. Notable residencies include Triangle France, ISCP in NYC, 18th Street Art Centre in Las Angeles, and Cité International Des Arts.


OktoLab participant Natalie Ryan

Artist: Natalie Ryan | Title: Giant Squid (blue velvet) | Medium/Material(s): Gypsum-based acrylic resin, prosthetic eyes, fibres | Dimensions: 190 x 40 x 18cm | Date: 2019 | Image Courtesy of the artist

Artist Statement

This work references the way in which we collect, preserve and display nature. The Giant Squid is often a prize specimen in many Natural History Museums around the world. Only ever really seen in death, either washed up on shorelines or within the Museum, the spectacle of the giant squid is one associated with awe and mystery - lending itself to well known narratives such as the monster from the deep. These narratives also allow the viewer a certain element of detachment and a less empathetic engagement with this animal. In this work the body of the squid is laid out on a black plinth reminiscent of display methods within the museum but more importantly those of a tomb. Unlike the pale colouring and formalin housing seen within the museum specimen, this work has a bright blue finish to reference bioluminescent communication methods used by these animals. The colouring and tactile velvet finish of the uncontained work hopes to attract the viewer and speak to the life and beauty of this animal even in death.


Natalie Ryan's practice explores themes that surround the aesthetic representation of the cadaver and natural sciences throughout history and their inclusion in contemporary art. Drawing from existing methodologies used for displaying these elements, she is interested in the process of imaging the natural world and the exchange between science and art that has allowed this. Ryan has worked with anatomical collections held in the Veterinary Department at the University of Melbourne, undertaken a medical residency at Monash University Gippsland and lectured in Anatomical Drawing working with human cadavers at Monash University. Ryan holds a PhD at Monash University Imaging the Dead: The Cadaver in Western Culture and Contemporary Art.

Recent exhibitions include Imaging the Dead at Linden New Arts, Curious and Curiouser at Bathurst Regional Gallery, Second Nature presented with Blackartprojects at Second Space Projects, Shifting Skin at China Heights Sydney, Mortem in Imagine curated by Michael Brennan at LUMA and the VAC Bendigo, MAF Platform Pop Up: Cutler and Co curated by Barry Keldoulis at Melbourne Art Fair, Imaging the Dead at MADA Gallery, Lorne Sculpture Biennale 2016, Unnatural Selection, curated by Simon Gregg at Gippsland Art Gallery and Pretty in Pink at Linden New Art. Recent residencies and grants include, ArtStart Australia Council for the Arts, Arts Victoria VICARTS GRANTS, Artist in Residence at The University of Melbourne Veterinary Department, Bundanon Studio Residency, Linden Studio Residency Program, Medical and Art Residency at Monash University Gippsland, APA - PhD at Monash University Caulfield and The Pratt Family Scholarship Award. Media and publications include Artist Profile Style No Chaser Magazine NYC, My Learned Object: Collections and Curiosities Ian Potter Museum of Art, Art Nation ABC National Australian Television, New Romantics: Darkness and Light in Australian Art by Simon Gregg and Trunk Books Volume 1:Hair by Suzanne Boccalatte and Meredith Jones.


OktoLab participant Tanja Böhme

Tanja-Kristine Böhme

After working as a firefighter and chemical engineer in the pharmaceutical industry, Tanja Böhme redefined her lifestyle to fully devote herself to her passion for animal research. She has collaborated with a sea turtle rescue station and mahouts and their elephants in Sri Lanka; completed a safari guide training and elephant research in South Africa; and interned with the Pacific Whale Foundation in Hawaii.

Since 2014 Tanja Böhme has pursued studies in fine arts, philosophy and art history at the University of Kassel, with a particular focus on animal subjectivity and communication. Performance, video and audio are her chosen methods of studio practice. Her current research focuses on the reactions and replies of zoo elephants when listening to recordings of whale songs.

During documenta14 in 2017, Tanja Böhme performed with international artists Otobong Nkanga and Pope.L. She was selected as a lecturer and participating artist at the Living With Animals conference in Richmond, Kentucky in 2017. A selection of past group exhibits featuring her work include the Fridericianum in Kassel, the Folkwang Museum in Essen, the documentary film festival Kassel DokFest and a guest performance at the Museum for Modern Art (MMK) in Frankfurt.


OktoLab participant Rachel Bailey

Rachel Bailey

Katsushika Hokusai, Kinoe no komatsu (Pine Seedlings on the First Rat Day ( or Old True Sophisticates of the Club of Delightful Skills)). Popularly known as the Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife. 1814. Woodcut. 18.9 x 26.6cm. Courtesy British Museum.


Despite spending most of her life trying to scam more time to read, Rachel has written books that have hit bestseller lists, are published in over 26 countries, and have been translated into 16 Languages. She is primarily published in contemporary romance and romantic comedy, but is interested in the broad scope of genre fiction. She has completed degrees in both psychology and social work, and is currently undertaking a PhD at the University of Tasmania. Her research sits at the intersection of popular romance studies and literary animal studies, with a particular focus on dog characters in romance novels. Rachel is a past president of the Romance Writers of Australia, and lives with her own personal hero and six rescue dogs on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland.


OktoLab participant Peter Godfrey Smith

Image courtesy Peter Godfrey Smith


Peter Godfrey-Smith has taught at Stanford, Harvard, and the CUNY Graduate center, and is currently professor of history and philosophy of science at the University of Sydney (AUS). He is the author of Other Minds: The Octopus, The Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness (2016, Farrar, Straus and Giroux) and four other books. He also collaborates extensively with biologists, pursuing empirical work on the octopus and a range of projects on evolutionary processes.


We are taking a curatorial approach based on the laboratory, facilitating interdisciplinary conversations between participants, including the curatorial team, as a way of encouraging the cross-pollination of ideas and potential collaborations. Thereby, we are not only exploring new approaches to studying animals but also testing the boundaries of curatorial practices for such studies. The octopus serves as both primary subject-matter and model for interdisciplinary research, capturing and at the same time exploiting the alien complexity and plasticity of the organism and its form in manifold ways.

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Hobart 2019 | Cologne 2020

OktoLab19: gallery of octopus aesthetics

Hobart: Artist/Participants | Visiting | Events | Funding & support

Download exhibition catalogues

OktoLab 19
exhibition catalogue:

The 9th Arm student
exhibition catalogue:


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Start date*:


End date*:


Gallery hours:

12 noon - 5 pm

closed on Mondays and Tuesdays


Plimsoll Gallery

Hobart, Australia

Website of Plimsoll Gallery

* 23/12/19 to 02/01/20 closed

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Exhibition opening

Friday 13

December 5.30pm

Plimsoll Gallery


This all day event will include artists talks, readings and presentations. RSVP to for catering purposes.

Saturday 11/01/20

Register » here

Student exhibtion

The 9th Arm

Entrepot Gallery, Hunter Street, Hobart

Dates: 13/12/19- 26/01/20

Opening 5.30pm 13 December

School’s program

Monday 16 December to Friday 20 December inclusive. Bookings essential

Years 1 - 6 & 7 - 12

A guided tour of the exhibition from exhibition curators will run for approximately 45 minutes.

Worksheets will be available.

School Holiday Program

Years 7 - 12

Dates: January 24 & 25

Booking and more information:

» focus activity 1: make experimental art pieces

» focus activity 2: colour, camouflage and adaptability

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Funding & support

OktoLab19 was realized with the generous and immense support of Plimsoll Gallery Coordinator, Jane Barlow. Without Jane’s incredible professional expertise and project management skills made the task of bringing together the unwieldy beast that is OktoLab19 so much easier than it would have been without having Jane on board. For more information see » Jane's page.

OktoLab19 is assisted through Arts Tasmania by the Minister for the Arts.

This project was made possible by the Australian Government's Regional Arts Fund, which supports the arts in regional and remote Australia.

sponsored by the DAAD with funds from the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF)

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