Artist Residency at IMSS

The International Museum of Surgical Science Artist Residency Program provides artists with extended and in-depth access to artifacts from the Museum collection, working space within the Museum, and support to present “capstone” exhibition or equivalent project that introduces additional perspectives to the institutional depiction of medical history. As artistic practice occupies an increasingly pluralistic field, this program was developed with the belief that artists are uniquely equipped to extrapolate on Museum collections in innovative ways.

This program is partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency.

-Anatomical Theaters of Mixed Reality [ATOM-r] (Spring/Fall 2016 Residents)

Anatomical Theaters of Mixed Reality (ATOM-r) is a provisional collective exploring forensics, anatomy, and 21st century embodiment through performance, language and emerging technologies. Participants include Mark Jeffery (choreography), Judd Morrissey (text and technology), Justin Deschamps and Christopher Knowlton (collaborators/performers).

about their project

Over the course of their residency, ATOM-r developed “Kjell Theøry: Prologue,” a multi-iteration project which took the form of an exhibition at the International Museum of Surgical Science, live performance at the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Arts and, and non-narrative film. “Kjell Theøry: Prologue,” is best described as an Augmented Reality (AR) experience juxtaposing the historical narrative of gay computing pioneer Alan Turing’s forced chemical castration and subsequent gynecomastia (development of breasts) with algorithmic mutations of Guillaume Apollinaire’s 1917 play, Les Mamelles de Tirésias (Tirésias’ Breasts), a genderfluid spectacle for which the author invented the word surrealism. “Kjell Theøry: Prologue” explores content that blurs the boundaries the binaries of physical and virtual space, past and future, male and female genders, and human and machine.

ATOM-r invited a number of collaborators to develop the project during their residency, including: Grace DuVal (costumes); Elena Ailes, Claire Ashley, Bryan Saner, Laura Prieto-Velasco, Stephen Reynolds, and Oli Watt (objects); Leonardo Kaplan (performance); Mev Luna (research assistant); Joshua Patterson (sound); Josh Hoglund (lighting); Javier Lopez (graphic design); and Julia Pello (video).  and multi-venue production.

A recording of their February 4, 2017 performance of”Kjell Theøry: Prologue” at the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Arts can be viewed in full below:

-Rebecca Walz + Ryan Pfeiffer (Fall 2015 Residents) 

Ryan M Pfeiffer + Rebecca Walz are collaborators that live and work in Chicago. Drawing from their research into prehistoric & ancient art, historical erotica, and esoteric traditions, their works synthesize concerns about sex, death, myth, transformation, and alchemy. They view the act of collaboration as the dissolution of individual identities and union of oppositions as a new, harmonized whole.

about their project

Through the lens of medicine, the body appears as a neatly organized system of discrete parts. The 12 organ model and its associated components give meaning, purpose and structure to the red mess of valves, fluids and palpitating tissues. In this way, medicine can be understood as a way of seeing the world. Drawing too is a way of seeing the world – so often associated with the investigation of form, the creation and manipulation of lines, boundaries and structure. It would seem then no accident that the earliest applications of health science are concurrent with the practice of anatomical illustration. Over the course of their residency, Pfeiffer + Walz developed a series of 15 drawings exploring this paradigm, utilizing images from the Museum’s immense archive to parallel relationships between the formal aspects of drawing and the symbolic networks surrounding the surgically opened, cut, or recompiled body. These drawings were exhibited from January 21 – February 21, 2017.

-Vesna Jovanovic (Fall 2015 Resident)

Vesna Jovanovic is a Chicago-based visual artist who specializes in conceptualizations of the human body. Using spilled ink as groundwork, she creates drawings that often formally resemble medical illustration while concentrating on what is usually left out: how it feels and what it means to have a body as well as how the body is culturally perceived. With drawing as a bodily act and medical illustration as a visual trope, Jovanovic brings embodiment, biopolitics, phenomenology, and various other ideas and theories of the human body into her work.

about their project

Grattan’s osteoclast, also called the Bone Crusher, is a relatively simple coupling of screws, springs and a stainless steel maw used to perform dry or “bloodless” surgeries at the turn of the 20th century. An example held by the International Museum of Surgical Science belonged to Elven Berkheiser who worked in Chicago at the Home for Crippled and Destitute Children in the early 1900s. There, “The Bone Crusher” was used in hundreds of procedures, and is referenced in at least 16 unique cases – in medical literature, or in the form “before and after” photographs also held by the Museum. It is such photographs, alongside the brutal osteoclast, that were of particular interest to Vesna Jovanovic during her residency. In a series of 16 drawings, Jovanovic placed an emphasis on the occluded or embedded histories of this unsettling collections. For Jovanovic, each case study photograph registers a haunting dissonance between the aseptic treatment of bodies in the medical vernacular and the personal details of the 16 child patients. This dissonance carried into the drawings themselves, where Jovanovic integrated beautifully rendered children’s playthings (a hobby horse, rag doll, etc.,) with sleek references to the mechanical workings of the osteoclast and spurts of bodily imagery. These drawings were exhibited from January 21 – February 21, 2017.