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Fact Designing Desire Exhib 013

The Evolution of the Spermalege (2014-ongoing)

by  Joey Holder

part of  Designing Desire

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Holder’s project looks to address this lack of curiosity, focusing on the genitalia of various insects, which have some of the strangest mating practices in the animal kingdom. For example honey bee penises snap off and explode, female praying mantis eat their male partners after (or sometimes even during) copulation, and male bed bugs use their scimitar-like sexual organ in a process of ‘traumatic insemination’. This is a mating practice (unexpectedly not limited to male-female couplings, or even couplings of the same species) in which the penis pierces the partner and injects sperm into the abdominal cavity, through the wound.

Aligned closely to Donna Haraway’s insistence for “nonhierarchical alliances” in her work When Species Meet, Holder utilises the connections between other species as a way to keenly understand the limitations of our own social and physical exchanges. In doing so, she also illustrates the unfair precedence with which we label our own interactions, ignoring the savage beauty, intricacy and complexity of the rituals of other species; only invoking examples of their intermingling as analogies for our own.