JALILA ESSAÏDI, combining spider silk and human tissue to make bulletproof skin

C1 copia


A copia


Bioartist Jalila Essaïdi has been always inspired by stories. Stories about safety, vulnerability and silk spider. Stories about using silk in combat. Stories about Genghis Khan who once used silk in a battle when he issued all his horsemen with silk vest.

Jalila Essaïdi —living and working in Eindhoven, The Netherlands— is blurring barriers between art and  life science. Using biology and ecology as an artistic medium she provokes critical thinking focused on social, political and ethical issues.

2.6g 329 m/s* —called after the weight and the velocity of a .22 calibre long riffle bullet— is a disruptive project which has never been done before and leads to a debate on the question ‘Which forms on safety are socially important?’. With 2.6g 329 m/s Essaïdi makes science fiction a reality by combining spider silk and human tissue to make bulletproof skin —a material stronger than steel which can stop even a bullet.


Words by Lula Criado (Twitter @Lula_ClotMag)



B1 copia

B2 copia

B3 copia


What do you most like and dislike about the period we live in?

You are asking me to compare the period I live in with the abstract concept in my mind of many other periods, most of which I didn’t personally experience.

I think this experience is key for this question, and since I lived in the world prior to the Internet my choice would be instant access to information. Passing on information is what shaped our species (and I’m just a knowledge junkie). I can’t make up my mind what I dislike most, there are plenty of things that need change, but all of these aren’t necessarily solely linked to just this period.


What is your chief enemy of creativity?

I am facing one right now, for a grand I need to write my personal development- and multi-year focus plan. In my opinion nothing is as bad for creativity as structuring it and planning it out ahead of time.


If you would have to give up one of your five senses, which one would it be?

When talking about the five traditional senses it would be smell, without a doubt. I think it is the easiest one to replace externally. You don’t need all the complex data that this sense provides you, and since you are dealing with gasses which are easily analysed you can just translate these results into a Boolean warning, indicating if something is bad (rotten eggs) for you or not.

If you expand the choice to include all the now known senses I am really wondering what life would be like without thermoception. I guess it is mostly an early warning system for another sense: pain.


What is the worst piece of advice you have been given?

“Don’t do that, it’s to risky”. Living life without taking any risks sounds like a boredom.


Do you consider yourself an introvert or extrovert?

Without a doubt introvert, just leave me on my own and I’m content. There is nothing more to say about this.


One for the ride… Who or what was the last person, place or thing that fascinated you?

I am not easily fascinated, I can’t remember the last time that this spark of intense interest hit me with its full force. Most of the time the dots are to easy to connect in order to be fascinating. (Either that or I don’t know enough about a topic in order to be fascinated)

Perhaps the working of fascination itself fascinates me, what triggers fascination? I know there are examples in neuroscience of people with brain damage who are in a constant state of bliss and fascinated by everything around them. Is there a relation to enlightenment here?


Website www.jalilaessaidi.com
(Photos courtesy the artist). The book ‘Bulletproof skin, Exploring Boundaries by Piercing Barriers’ can be bought here.
24 Jul 2014