From May 10th to 18th, 2019.the artist, Fiona Davies, undertook a series of performative lectures within the exhibition Cast a Cold Eye on Life on Death: The Remake Medicalised Death in ICU. This is Davies’s examination exhibition, the culmination of four years of practice-led research into medicalised death in ICU. There are a series of installations, object-based works, performances and interactive works. In each performative lecture Davies led a small group of viewers through these works, involved them in activities and if they wanted to. encouraged them to participate in conversations about medicalised death.From May 10th to 18th, 2019.the artist, Fiona Davies, undertook a series of performative lectures within the exhibition Cast a Cold Eye on Life on Death: The Remake Medicalised Death in ICU. This is Davies’s examination exhibition, the culmination of four years of practice-led research into medicalised death in ICU. There are a series of installations, object-based works, performances and interactive works. In each performative lecture Davies led a small group of viewers through these works, involved them in activities and if they wanted to. encouraged them to participate in conversations about medicalised death.
This video is of the first stage in the lecture. It starts with an oral history given by an ICU nurses about one patient and her death. This oral history is quoted from ‘David Crippen, End-of-Life Communication in the ICU: A Global Perspective (New York: Springer, 2008): 52.’ Then Davies sits behind the audience to tell a fairy tale while they watch the simulation on the medical monitor of a patient rupturing an abdominal aneurysm and bleeding out to death.
Warning: The exhibition and the performative lecture contain images, sounds and activities that deal with death, dying, hospitals, violence, blood and body parts for transplantation.
‘Cast a Cold eye on Life, on Death’ is a quote by WB Yeats
In Gallery five of the Sydney College of the Arts/ University of Sydney Gallery two Masters of Art Curating students, Tian Kang and Yunyan Tang selected my new installation Where they were last seen for their exhibition Being towards Death. Gallery five is an interesting mix between being a white cube and a non-white cube space. In this installation developed specifically for this exhibition and this site, the curatorial premise developed by Tian and Yunyang resulted in a more direct focus on the physicality of the Intensive Care Unit. The image shows a detail of one of the main elements of the space. The patient bedspace is sited directly underneath a large roof lantern or skylight. The overbed hospital table holds the bedside medical monitor playing the simulation of the visual data and sonic traces of a patient bleeding out while the silk paper bed and pillow shape refutes the functionality of the bed by its ephemeral, flimsy and seemingly transitory nature. The next post will address one of the other elements of the installation, the blanket work.
Fiona Davies Where they were last seen (detail) 2018 Installation, silk paper, found objects, video, framed print, photographic print and fabric. Size variable as installed Gallery 5 SCA Gallery Sydney. Photo credit Alex Gooding
In terms of the bedspace of the patient the body in healthcare settings occupies a complex but somewhat ambivalent position: it is at the centre of everything yet is at the same time oddly displaced and this is even more pronounced once that body is dead. Then apparently there is little tolerance for the sight of the dead body by others. Speciality transports are used to move the body from the place of death to the morgue. This conceals both the presence and/or the shape of the body.
It is possible that this well-intentioned consideration of the sensibilities of the living members of the public work to dislocate or sever the experiences of the recently dead patient’s family and carers. Until death they were associated with a specific location in the hospital, the bed or bedspace of the patient. After death and the transportation of the body to the morgue they tend to be cut free. There is no physical evidence of the patient in the public sphere of the hospital and the family and carers appear to be of limited further interest to the hospital.
The exhibition was part of the Curatorial Lab component of the Masters of Art Curating program.
On the 17th October from 6-8 p.m. an exhibition Being towards Death curated by University of Sydney, Masters of Art Curating, students, Tian Kang and Yunyan Tang will open at the SCA Gallery, University of Sydney, Sydney. They have curated a new work of mine an installation titled Where they were last seen.
On the following evening the 18th October also from 6-8 p.m. Tian and Yunyan with a number of other Master of Art Curating students have also curated another work of mine into a group exhibition titled In Translation at Verge Gallery on the main campus of the University of Sydney. The work selected for this exhibition is Racing Patience ICU, a performative installation from 2018.
One of the first works in this series remade. Formerly in an installation where they wrapped around kneelers in a church, now they are sewn together. All the small incisions around the supports are sewn flat and then all the strips of blanket fabric sewn flat to form a very large blanket shape. The numbers are from a reading from a bedside medical monitor and have their own narrative to be read from left to right or right to left.