Be Finale of Seem – a series of events about death and the way it structures life
Death & Dissection (Rachael Allen)
Friday, 25 May 2012
Workshop and viewing 12-5pm, preview event 6- 8pm
Saturday 26 May 2012
“The dead body harbours the great mysteries of creation and humanity: the hidden beauty and intricacy of function, the insistence of individuality, the inevitability of decline, the incontrovertibility of death set up against the ill-defined boundaries of like.”
(Body of Work: Meditations of Mortality From The Human Anatomy Lab by Christine Montross)
The dissection of human cadavers for medical education has been practised since the 14th century. Today, dissection and cadaver studies are frequently seen as serving purposes of personal development in promoting humanistic values; providing an opportunity to introduce students to death in a controlled manner, especially in conjunction with education on death and dying.
Both students and society alike are spared from the body’s unpleasantaries during anatomy dissection and funeral customs in our modern culture, whose death rituals, if they even involve the corpse, centre on a body embalmed and made up to prevent any unfavourable signs of decay. The elaborate preparation of our bodies enables us to separate from the totality of death more easily, and thus, distances us from the corporality of our fate.
Death and Dissection will contemplate moral issues associated with the practice of human dissection, and offer a view into the anatomy lab through a sensual screen. Paying homage to the 16th-18th century medical students who would bear witness to bodily decomposition, and thus, were closer to death, the workshop will invite one to view, and handle, the vital process without which life would not be possible – decay.
Rachael Allen (born 1984; lives and works in Newcastle Upon Tyne) is artist in residence in Newcastle, Northumbria and Durham University anatomy laboratories, currently orchestrating a number of projects exploring the role of visual art in anatomy and clinical pedagogy. She exhibits regularly nationwide and internationally, achieves artwork sales, commissions and residencies, and is involved in arts related community work and public engagement projects.