October 31, 2008 – January 9, 2009
"Sculpture as Medicine: Fetishes, Physiological Spaces, and Healing Actions", curated by Gabriel Akagawa
Jason Ferguson, “CORPOreal”
Free, public reception for the artists: Friday, October 31, from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m.
This pair of exhibitions challenges the traditional dichotomy between the practices of art and medicine, as well as the line conventionally drawn between corporeal and inanimate objects.
|Anne Chino, Untitled|
“Sculpture as Medicine”constitutes a group exhibition of works in various media, including a performance to take place during the opening reception, created by students in a class of the same name at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. The exhibition is curated by their instructor Gabriel Bizen Akagawa, who designed the course, which he has taught for the last two years, “to investigate how studio art changes when it has a medicinal function.” He directed members of the class to consider medicine not necessarily as “a physical drug that changes one's state from ill to well,” but rather as “a direction for some types of art, or a lens through which to look at art.” This approach resulted in disparate works characterized by the exhibition's subtitle: fetishes, physiological spaces, and healing actions.
It was Akagawa’s goal to nurture students' work through “a practice of medicinal attention and action lacking in many realms of career-driven society.” Moreover, he says, “Medicine is an unstable phenomenon in contemporary society. Health (care) is not necessarily a human right. We are a society that is both overmedicated and in desperate need of medicine.” Akagawa co-curated “Mountains: A Faketure Consortium Project” at the Beverly Arts Center earlier this year, and his piece entitled Honeycomb Ceiling was recently featured at the Chicago Cultural Center. This exhibition is supported in part by the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. For more information about the Sculpture as Medicine class, please visit http://holistic-structures.wikispaces.com. To learn about curator Gabriel Akagawa and his work, see http://gabriel-akagawa.wikispaces.com.
|Jason Ferguson, Inanimate Autopsy|
“CORPOreal” comprises documentation of the medical protocols—postmortem examination, dissection, cross-sectional imaging, and full-body scanning—that Ferguson has performed on everyday household objects, such as a shoe and a La-Z-Boy recliner. The exhibition includes both the physical remains of these objects, selected based on their socio-cultural associations, as well as video footage of their deconstruction through procedures generally reserved for the bodies of living organisms. Ferguson learned these actual procedures from medical practitioners and professionals in other scientific disciplines; “Collaborating with practitioners in various branches of study gives my work a level of authenticity that I could not provide on my own,” he says.
This authenticity provokes a visceral reaction from viewers, making them aware of their status as mortal objects: “The human condition has been defined as the paradoxical state of having awareness of one’s limitations and mortality while lacking the ability to alter fate. My work utilizes scientific protocol and the collection and analysis of empirical data in order to explore the minute details of human experience more thoroughly.” Ferguson currently teaches at the University of Idaho, and his work has recently been exhibited in solo shows on the East Coast and also in group exhibitions in Germany and the Netherlands. Details about Ferguson and his work are available at www.jasonjferguson.com.
These exhibitions are the latest in the Museum’s “Anatomy in the Gallery” series, which has showcased medically themed contemporary art in quarterly paired exhibitions since 1998. The Museum exhibits this artwork along with thousands of historical artifacts from its permanent collection, including surgical instruments as well as a number of paintings, drawings, and sculptures, in accordance with its mission: to enrich the lives of its visitors by enhancing their appreciation and understanding of medicine. To learn more about “Anatomy in the Gallery,” please visit the program’s MySpace page.
This project is partially sponsored by a CityArts Program 2 grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency.