Friday, January 30, 2015

Medicine Chest III

The starting point for this third box in the "Medicine Chest" series (plus 5th and maybe final box in the 'Escape Artist' body of work) was pretty much the title 'Subversion' and the intention for box 3 to subvert the ideas in the proceeding work 'Specimen' while also realising the anarchic ideas hinted at in 'Spectacle'.  While Medicine Chest II: Specimen is about the authority science and medicine have asserted over disability and illness from the early 20th century onwards and embodies the "Medical Model" of disability (where the challenges faced by the disabled and ill are seen purely from a point of pathology, often resulting in public invalidation) Medicine Chest III: Subversion not only embodies it's counter model (the 'social model' of disability where the challenges faced by the ill and disabled are seen to arise from a culture that fails to accommodate their needs) but illustrates the subversive threat and potential for transcendence residing in individuals whom liberal individualist democracy have necessarily marginalised, invalidated and excluded from public life based on their disability.

The disabled and sick body in it's inability to look or behave like the 'normal body' mocks the most basic tenets of liberal individualist democracy - that the individual be self determining and autonomous. In this way bodily instability is the physical manifestation of political anarchy.

This fantasy  -  of the autonomous individual in control of their physical self - that underwrites our political and economic system and which stands in complicit denial of the truth regarding our corporeal vulnerability, makes for fragile foundations. Medicine Chest III: Subversion then imagines the point at which these foundations collapse, where anarchic organic corporeality escapes from the margins of invalidation to assert a transcendent power that realises it's capacity to both threaten and inspire.

Note: It was this capacity for the 'extraordinary' body to both threaten and inspire it's audience that made the freak show so popular from mid 1800s to the early 1900s.

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