Being Towards Death, the exhibition

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.

DSC04373Fiona 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.

Advertisements

Invitation to two exhibition openings next week.

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.  

IMG_3751On 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.

racing-patience-icu-at-holding-space-1-jpg_138_big

‘Gore’ at the Joan, Penrith, Sydney

From the 2nd July until 30th July 2018, Gore will be located in the foyer of the Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre  in Penrith, Sydney. Curated by Dr Anika Mostaert and Christine Ghali, Gore is the last of four exhibitions as part of the Art/Science series called Curious.

Blood on Silk Bleeding Out as Imaged 2 .jpg

Detail of Blood on Silk ; Bleeding Out as Imaged,  2018 rice paper, ink and revolving lights.

The rise and rise of algorithms in the treatment of patients.

https://qz.com/1189730/google-is-using-46-billion-data-points-to-predict-the-medical- outcomes-of-hospital-patients/

The title of the article on the quartz website is  Google is using 46 billion data points to predict the medical outcomes of hospital patients’.   This includes the claim by Google that they have …. ‘the ability to predict patient deaths 24-48 hours before current methods… ‘

The research paper from Google apparently hasn’t been peer reviewed yet and it will be very interesting to see how this all plays out.

 

Thinking about ‘In Praise of Shadows’ in this new work, Blood on Silk: Last Seen

Blood on Silk: Last Seen by Fiona Davies

At the Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre, Casula, Sydney, Australia

Opening 21st July 2017 6-9p.m.

then open until the 17th September daily open hours of 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Curated by Lizzy Marshall

The turbine hall at Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre in Sydney, Australia is the first space entered by the visitor. It is large, at first glance it is apparently empty, a space approximately 13.8 metres high by 12.7 metres wide and 26.5 metres deep.

The ground floor of the hall is the site of multiple points of transition and multiple points of decision making, some of which relate directly to the architecture and some to the usual patterns or paths of passage in this architectural space resulting in an invisible crisscrossing pattern of use. The most overt point of transition is at the point of entry from the outside into the interior followed by less obvious multiple points of transition over the entire ground floor as the visitor determines what sequence they will follow or make. The visitor traffic is forced to the perimeters at the mezzanine level. All of the viewers in this hall are aware of the scale of the space.

Overlaid onto this patterning is the work Blood on Silk: Last Seen. The over arching theoretical concern of the project Blood on Silk is medicalised death in ICU. That is death that is constructed as a medical problem. The points of transition in the process of medicalised death start at the same place – coming through the entry doors either through emergency or as with Casula and many hospitals, the main front door. Layers of points of transition are then built up through the systems, design and architecture of the hospital – the controls of the visitor entry into ICU, the swing doors into the operating theatres and walking the empty shadowy corridors at night.

In this installation, large sheets of silk paper hang from the ceiling forming five rooms or partially curtained bed spaces. The ceiling is not lit so the upper reaches of the silk lie in darkness. On to these curtains of silk at just above head height, fragments of images of individuals passing through points of transition in a hospital are projected. The figures, seen from the back, are partially recognisable and partially anonymous. In the mezzanine gallery the hard lighting of fluorescent tubing starkly refers to the liminal space of the smoking area just outside the hospital buildings. All hospitals in NSW are smoke free work places including all outside areas.

In a recent talk at the Power Institute by the art critic Sebastian Smee, he talked about the book ‘In Praise of Shadows’ by Jun’ichirō Tanizaki. This book has been described as a haphazard exposition of the aesthetics of beauty and where in the dark of the shadow only then is it possible to experience a certain type of seeing. ‘The darkness seemed to fall from the ceiling, lofty, intense, monolithic, the fragile light .. unable to pierce its thickness   ……. the visible darkness. [1] The light of the floor and the darkness of the high ceiling illuminated only by the intermittent light of the projections offset by the liminal space in the mezzanine gallery speak to the clarity of the way of seeing in the shadow, this way of seeing in the liminal space of the carer in hospital .

  1. Jun’ichirō Tanizaki [1] In Praise Of Shadows, Leete’s Island Books, 1977. P 34-35