Ria Hartley


SPIT KIT: An invitation to salivate, talk about identity markers and consider what we might know and think about our ancestry via the medium of spit.

What is your national identity? Your cultural identity? Your ethnicity? Race?… Do these questions make you feel uncomfortable? Yes? No? Prefer not to say? Other? (Please specify)

Last year, I took a DNA test to see what I might discover about my identity through tracing unknown ancestry. If you were to take one, what do you think it would reveal or confirm?

Your saliva contains genetic code, within it clues to centuries of human migration – perhaps a more reliable source than aural family histories or your physical appearance. We are regularly asked to affirm our identity, but what do we really know? Who is it for and why is it so important to be classified?

In this one-to-one performance, enter a lab for a DIY DNA test. You will be asked to donate some saliva. Untested, it will become part of a collection, displayed alongside your self-identification, with the labels you choose for yourself.




This work is part of a wider body of research and performance, titled The Genetic Body, a project supported by Arts Council England. SPIT KIT was performed at Fierce Festival 2016Steakhouse Live as part of the Hackney WickED Festival 2014  and at InIVA Contemporary Rites Programme 

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© 2018 Ria Hartley