A ground–breaking exhibition examining the experience of donor conception in Australia is calling for contributions and participation from sperm and egg donors, donor conceived people and families touched by donor conception. The exhibition will present their life experiences in art, photographs and music. A collection of archival material and memorabilia will also portray the way assisted reproduction was conducted in a time of social anonymity.
Entitled 'Donor conception: from anonymity to openness', the exhibition is an initiative of the Victorian Assisted Reproductive Treatment Authority (VARTA), which is collaborating with a committee of donors and donor conceived people to create the event.
Running throughout the month of June, it will be timed to mark the implementation of the Assisted Reproductive Treatment Further Amendment Act 2014 (Vic), which will take effect from June 29. The new laws will give donor-conceived people born before 1988 the right to access identifying information about their donor, with the donor’s consent. Until these legislative changes were made, anonymous pre-1988 donors could only be linked with a donor-conceived adult via a voluntary register.
“This is world-first legislation,” said Louise Johnson, VARTA CEO. "And to the best of our knowledge there has never been an exhibition of this nature anywhere in the world. These are two big 'firsts' for donor conceived people and their families and we want to be able to acknowledge their importance."
“The changes are about people and families - they are not just about laws and numbers,” Ms Johnson said. "We want to encourage donors, donor conceived people and their families to take part in the exhibition - in ways that suit their talents and their levels of comfort - to show the human side of the legislation."
The exhibition will include:
A photographic display, shot by a professional photographer. Donors and donor conceived people are invited to take part in this component of the event. Each photograph will be accompanied by a piece of text describing something of the subject’s donor-related experience.
A collection of original artworks thematically linked to the experience of donor conception. Organisers are especially keen to include artwork from younger age groups.
An archival presentation. Members of the public who have donor-conception related documents, forms, records, artefacts, historical photographs, or correspondence between a donor, donor-offspring, donor siblings, or intended parents (sent or not, real or imagined) that they would be willing to exhibit publicly are encouraged to participate.
A musical performance at the exhibition opening. A small group of people with links to donor conception are coming together to write songs to be performed at the opening of the exhibition. People interested in being involved are encouraged to contact VARTA.
The photographic and art elements of the exhibition will be curated by artist, Kim Buck, a donor-conceived woman, while the archival material components will be curated by Roger Clarke, a donor.
The exhibition will take place June 2-29 at the gallery of the City Library, Melbourne.
People interested in participating in the event should contact Kate Bourne, VARTA’s Donor Register Services Manager, on 03 8601 5250 or at email@example.com.
The Assisted Reproductive Treatment Further Amendment Act 2014 (Vic) will extend the current law applying to donor-conceived people conceived from gametes donated between July 1, 1988 and December 31, 1997 to donor-conceived people conceived from gametes donated before July 1, 1988. These changes will come into force no later than June 29, 2015.
The amendments are designed to enable all donor-conceived people to apply for non-identifying information about their donors where it is available, and for those born with gametes donated before January 1, 1998, identifying information can be sought with the donor’s consent. After 1998, new donors automatically consented to making identifying information available to donor-conceived people.
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