Wednesday, 13 March 2013

It's not what you think - Communicating Medical Materialities,conference at Medical Museion, Copenhagen

8-9 March 2013 we were selected to present a performative workshop to conference / workshop participants exploring the materialities of medical environments at "It's Not What You Think: Communicating Medical Materialities". The workshop call outlined the limitations of using language to analyse and explore the material world when these experiences are fundamentally embodied. 

We proposed a practical performance-based workshop based on material generated during our residency working with parents of premature babies in a Neonatal Unit.
Through our own research we came to understand that “too much talk” around this material carries the risk of objectifying and instrumentalising the words and experiences of other people. We were using a performative process to uncover another form of understanding. For the workshop, we proposed to redeploy and reflect on the processes we had developed to date, to explore how the specific materiality of the unit itself, and of the voices of the people inhabiting that space could be communicated and shared outside the original context. We hoped to discuss the issues this raised for us as artists working in medical contexts.

Unfortunately in all the excitement we didn't manage to take any photographs during the performance itself.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

object invesitigation workshop, Communicating Medical Materialities, Medical Museion, Copenhagen

Lucy Lyons and David Pantalony guided a object investigation workshop exploring objects from the museum's collection using drawing, the senses and imagining. This was one of the highlights from the conference, and also the most challenging. Four tables were laid with objects from the collection categorized as body matter, chemical, metal and seeing/touching. Both Steven and I were at the body matter table, and were moved to work with the face of a young boy who had been deformed by disease, preserved in formaldahyde. On seeing this for the first time I wanted to cry and chose this object to work with out of respect for the young boy and to work through this strong emotional response. Initially, we were asked not to focus on the boy, but to draw the glass vessel he was suspended in, imaging how this might have been manufactured and the circumstances around this. We later learned from the museum technician that the boy had suffered from a cancer that is caused by extreme poverty and malnutrition, and that is very very rare these days. Discussion also covered the ethical questions of how human tissue is sourced for museum and academic research, but also the issue of how to exhibit this kind of material.

Another exercise involved feeling an object with one hand and doing a blind drawing what you felt with the other.

Video documentation of the workshop here.

Friday, 1 March 2013

rehearsals for Communicating Medical Materialities, Medical Museion, Copenhagen

In preparation for the workshop we were invited to give at Communicating Medical Materialities conference at the Medical Museion, we developed some of the exercises we had devised with material from our residency in the Neonatal Unit. We experimented applying the cut ups texts from interviews with parents, consultants and midwives to objects, (in this case a medical training baby doll) and furniture, and asked two friends to deliver these lines to each other, moving the objects as necessary and orientating themselves around the furniture, directing their voice and attention to the other person, each using breath as a meter.


One person applied cut up texts to the other person's body and then delivered these lines, using breath as a meter and moving the person's body when necessary.