In response to the rapidly growing human population as many animal species’ populations are trailing off—certainly not a coincidence—Japanese artist Ai Hasegawa drew up plans for homo sapiens to potentially carry the young of other creatures.

Ai Hasegawa, I Wanna Deliver A Dolphin (Vandalized Statue), 2013
Ai Hasegawa, I Wanna Deliver A Dolphin (Vandalized Statue), 2013. Courtesy the artist

Can you tell me a little about your projects around reproduction—when and why did you first decide to explore this area?
Since I was a child I thought I would have a baby as my mother did—as usual. But in reality, when I got older I found out that it is such a complex issue. In 2011, when I made this project, the media were talking a lot about environmental issues. Japan had a huge earthquake which caused a nuclear power plant explosion. People were questioning how many slaves are working behind the scene for one person living in a developed country. Would a baby be happy to be brought into this world? And so on… Many of these different issues made me question whether having more humans on the planet is an ethical thing to do.

In your I Wanna Deliver a… series of works, you mention that with growing human populations and subsiding animal populations this is a new (albeit tongue-in-cheek) way of propagating certain species. Do you want the work to have a moralistic stance?

At first this work felt so crazy and like I was kidding. But you are left with many ethical issues to consider if you are thinking of having a human baby, especially if you are an honest and serious person.

“Would a baby be happy to be brought into this world?”

Ai Hasegawa, I Wanna Deliver A Dolphin (Delivery Moment), 2013
Ai Hasegawa, I Wanna Deliver A Dolphin (Delivery Moment), 2013. Courtesy of the artist

There is the added element in this work of the mother then eating her new spawn after it has been birthed—how do you feel about this possibility?

I am not saying eating it just after the birth! It would be sent to the wild to live its life fully and die naturally at the end—at that time we will find the body and eat it. Also, this is kind of like asking where the sympathy border is between your baby and other food. Most things we consider food are living thing, like plants, fish, chicken and cows. Where is the border for you to feel something? This idea comes from how I could become a vegetarian. If I deliver a fish baby, maybe I will quit eating fish.

“You are left with many ethical issues to consider if you are thinking of having a human baby, especially if you are an honest and serious person”

Ai Hasegawa, I Wanna Deliver A Dolphin (Delivery Moment), 2013. Courtesy of the artist

Which animals have you found to be the most compatible for a human to carry and birth?

I guess it could be the ape. But to be honest, it would be much safer to use the animals that are more distant from mammals, because these do not share infections with humans (apes, chickens and pigs all famously share infections and diseases with humans). I also suggest a type of gentle small shark. The shark case suggests using the womb like an incubator. In this case, there would not be direct contact with the human womb and the shark baby.

Are there any animals which would be totally off limits?

I thought about the size and gestation period. If it is too big and too long, it would not be possible. But it would be especially difficult for the panda bear—despite their adult body size, the baby is so tiny.

 

This feature originally appeared in issue 37

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