June 4 – August 20, 2010
Patrick Ryoichi Nagatani, “Chromatherapy”
Carolyn Bernstein, “Yew Tree Project”
Free, public reception: Friday, June 4, from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m.
|Patrick Ryoichi Nagatani,
Post-Surgical Chroma Healing
“Chromatherapy” includes 25 selected photographs from a larger series that Nagatani has worked on intermittently since 1978. The series focuses on colored light healing, a practice based upon the belief that shining rays of light through colored lenses onto diseased or afflicted areas of the body can have therapeutic effects. This present-day alternative medicine has its roots in ancient Egyptian and Chinese magic but also reaches into the science-fictional future as an advanced Western technology in the form Dr. Beverly Crusher’s light tool on Star Trek: The Next Generation. Nagatani’s photos “document” theatrically staged scenes of chromatherapy put to use toward various ends—from post-surgical rehabilitation to genetic modification to breast augmentation—that are in themselves incisive commentary on modern society.
Furthermore, each image generates a cinematic narrative of growth and healing, playing on the contemporary pop-cultural obsession with "real-life" stories of personal development and transformation as well as the human need to believe, both in what we see and in something that we cannot. A gentle, non-invasive treatment such as chromatherapy, he says, "might be a dream rather than reality, but perhaps some dreams should be reality." Nagatani is an internationally recognized artist, considered a founding member of the Contemporary Constructive Movement in photography. Desire for Magic, a major survey of his work from 1978 to 2008, is scheduled to open in 2010 at the art museum of the University of New Mexico, where he is a professor emeritus, before traveling to venues nationwide.
|Carolyn Bernstein, installation detail|
“Yew Tree Project” explores modalities of looking into, seeing through, and confronting the diseased body through an investigation of the complex network of institutions and individuals involved with the development of the anti-cancer drug Taxol from the poisonous bark of the Pacific yew tree (Taxus brevifolia). For this installation, Bernstein covers the gallery walls with overlapping layers of more or less transparent conceptual images—text maps, diagrams, and chemical formulae—that delineate the relationships between the entities in question: governmental agencies, botanists, environmental organizations, pharmaceutical companies, financial institutions, healthcare systems, doctors, and finally patients. Also on display is x-ray film representing the medical image of these test patients, segmented into pieces and reduced to two-dimensionality.
Bernstein counteracts this dehumanization by recreating the bodies of the patients, hand-etching them on panels of glass with intricate white lines that mimic the white illumination commonly seen on x-rays, and positioning the panels so that light shining through casts strong shadows on the walls behind, literally giving them depth. Bernstein explains, “Through this work, I encourage viewers to enter some aspects of the experience of the patient, to think and feel more deeply about what may not be visible on the surface. The patients depicted in “Yew Tree Project” are carefully and slowly hand-rendered in order to reclaim for them a grace, beauty, and dignity.” Drawings from this installation were previously published in Whitewalls: A Journal of Language and Art. More information about Bernstein and her work is available at: www.carolynbernstein.com.
These exhibitions are the latest in the Museum’s ongoing "Anatomy in the Gallery" program, which showcases paired exhibitions of medically inspired contemporary art within the context of the Museum’s historical exhibits and artifacts. The Museum has exhibited this artwork since 1998 in accordance with its mission: to enrich the lives of its visitors by enhancing their appreciation and understanding of medicine.
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.