‘The Body is a Big Place’ is a large-scale, immersive installation developed through collaboration between artists Helen Pynor and Peta Clancy in collaboration with scientists, clinicians, and sound artist Gail Priest. The work explores organ transplantation and the ambiguous thresholds between life and death, revealing the process of death as an extended durational process, rather than an event that occurs in a single moment in time. The work’s title refers to the capacity for parts of the body to traverse vast geographic, temporal and interpersonal distances during organ transplantation processes.
As part of the installation a fully functioning heart perfusion system was used to reanimate to a beating state a pair of fresh pig hearts during live performances. Rather than sensationalising these events, the artists sought to encourage empathic responses from viewers, opening up the possibility of a deeper awareness of viewers’ own interiors.
Performers in the work’s projected underwater video sequences were members of the organ transplant community in Melbourne, individuals who have received, donated, or stood closely by loved ones as they received or posthumously donated human organs.
Sound: Gail Priest
Collaborating Scientists and Clinicians:
Professor John Headrick and Dr Jason Peart, Heart Foundation Research Centre, Griffith University, Queensland, Australia; Professor Michael Shattock, Cardiovascular Division, King’s College London; Dr Kumud Dhital, Dr Arjun Iyer and Jonathan Cropper, St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney and the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute, Sydney; Dr Gorazd Drevensek, Institute of Pharmacology, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia.
The Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body
ANAT – Australian Network for Art and Technology
St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney
St Vincent’s Clinical School – University of New South Wales, Sydney
The Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute, Sydney
Performance Space, Sydney
Science Gallery Dublin
Science Gallery London
Galerija Kapelica, Ljubljana
SymbioticA – Biological Arts, The University of Western Australia, Perth
Monash Art, Design & Architecture, Monash University, Melbourne
Sydney College of the Arts, The University of Sydney
The Besen Family Foundation
The Editors, Sydney
List of exhibitions (selected)
Beijing Media Art Biennale (2018)
Science Gallery London (2017)
National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts (2013)
Science Gallery Dublin (2013)
Galerija Kapelica, Ljubljana, Slovenia (2013)
Performance Space, Sydney (2011)
Science Gallery London: https://london.sciencegallery.com/blood-exhibits/the-body-is-a-big-place
Science Gallery Dublin: https://dublin.sciencegallery.com/oscillator-exhibits/the-body-is-a-big-place
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