Accepted paper:

Bone Work: The Leib as Archive


Christina Lammer (Academy of Fine Arts Vienna)

Paper short abstract:

The human body is a rich archive of knowledge and remembrances. History is inscribed in the Leib (living body). I use my own body and its parts to reflect on medical culture and the meaning of archival bodies in surgery. The result of my explorations are analogue and digital movies and resin casts.

Paper long abstract:

Bones need resistance. Surgeons who operate on the skeleton exercise their physical capacity to the full. For me, these operations are difficult to watch. I like to trace a situation in which I found myself during the first orthopedic operation that I observed - a total endoprosthesis of the right hip. I attended the proceedings and had difficulties, emotionally and on the level of representation, to film the surgery. Close-up images of operating hands appeared on the viewfinder of my camera as utterly brutal bloody scenarios. Today I realize that my perspective in those days is the result of my own affliction: I need myself artificial hip joints. Recently my left hip has been replaced. I am still recovering from the operation. A medical student had photographed the procedures for me. My orthopedic surgeon gave me the femoral head that he had removed from my body, in order to use it for my artistic research. Bone work. In the meantime, I have made fifty colorful resin casts of my bony remnant. I explore my hip bone and the photo documentation of the procedures as archive of experiences. Formerly located in the centre of myself. Cast making is a fascinating method. All about skin and touch. I am particularly interested in the interaction of sculpture and surgery. Working on the bone and with the photographs, making casts, drawings and a 16mm short movie of the preservation process, is emotionally demanding and peculiar. However I enjoy the tacit playfulness that is involved.

panel P029
Bodies of Archives/Archival Bodies