The Patient – The Medical Subject in Contemporary Art

Posted on Posted in Archives, Curatorial

One of my video art works, The Man in the Irony Mask is included in this inspiring exhibition on now at the UNSW Gallery.
The Patient examines the embodied experience of the artist as medical patient and the medical patient as living subject in contemporary art.

The word patient has a dual meaning. It describes a state of being – of bearing a situation quietly, without complaint. It also describes a person in a hospital or clinical context, who is ill and undergoing diagnosis or treatment. The word originates from the Latin patiens, which means “suffering, enduring”. And for the medical patient, it is a common enough experience to wait, with pain.

The exhibition explores the ways in which artists engage with powerful human experiences in the fields of health, biological science and medicine, contributing to discourse on the representation of illness, disease, care, individual agency and what it is to be human.

Curated by guest curator and UNSW Art & Design PhD candidate Bec Dean, the collection of works, new experiments and ongoing projects featured in The Patient are all variously difficult, fearless, funny and sometimes unlovely. They range across media and connect to us as viewers and occasionally as participants.

The artists in this exhibition are drawn from Australia and the world, past and present. Their work deepens our own enquiries into the actual stuff of illness and disease, death and life – how they manifest viscerally and psychologically, as well as socially and politically.

Through its exhibition programs, UNSW Galleries fosters and advances research and discourse around the pressing issues of our times. Exhibition projects that draw on knowledge and research from a range of disciplines – such as art, medicine and science – have the capacity to impart and investigate new approaches to understanding the fluid and rapidly evolving 21st century society in which we live.

Participating artists: Ingrid Bachmann (Canada), John A Douglas (Australia), Brenton Heath-Kerr (Aus), Carol Jerrems (Aus), Eugenie Lee (Korea/Aus), David McDiarmid (Aus), Helen Pynor (Aus/UK), Jo Spence (UK), ORLAN (France), John Wynne (UK) & Tim Wainwright (Aus/UK), Bob Flanagan & Sheree Rose (US), and Guy Ben-Ary (US/Aus) with Nathan Thompson, Andrew Fitch, Douglas Bakkum, Stuart Hodgetts, Mike Edel.

 

Read more:

https://www.artdesign.unsw.edu.au/unsw-galleries/patient