Medicine in Art, MOCAK MUSEUM of Contemporary Art in Krakov 

Opening: 21 April 2016 at 18h, it lasts until 2 October, 2016

Curators: Delfina Jałowik, Jürgen Kaumkötter, Monika Kozioł, Maria Anna Potocka, Agnieszka Sachar

Medicine in Art is an exhibition that confronts terms permeating the public sphere of reference with the viewpoint of the artist. Medicine is present throughout human life and impacts on all its aspects. Medicine offers help and cure, while putting us to task and inspiring reflection. The connotations it has are, above all, illness, pain and therapeutic treatment. Another theme is physical wasting and death. Illness goes hand‑in‑hand with care‑giving and compassion and this is the area of medicine that the patient and doctor share.

Medicine is also a science, which in its vast scope comprises pharmaceutical, biological and psychological experimentation, dealing with the ethical issues that ensue. This scientific aspect also includes the psychology of illness understood as the relationship between the state of the mind and the state of the physical body.

Psychiatry is another fascinating medical area which enables us to look at how ‘being different’ can be a source of creativity and provide artistic therapy, where illness can indeed be extinguished through art. Another topical area of medicine, if one often looked down on, is plastic surgery, that enables individuals to live out their dream of being forever beautiful and young.

Medicine is a source of many topics that in various ways torment the human psyche, thus an artistic field of engagement par excellence. Artists are finely tuned into ‘symbol providers’. And medicine is a versatile provider. Above all, it has an overview of what it means to be doomed to live in a mortal body.

Artists: Marina Abramović, Eleanor Antin, Marta Antoniak, Kader Attia, Małgorzata Blamowska, Piotr Blamowski, Micha Brendel, Daniele Buetti, Beatriz da Costa, Oskar Dawicki, Ugo Dossi, Marian Eile, Iaia Filiberti / Debora Hirsch, Mark Gilbert, Zbigniew Herbert, Markus Käch, Fritz Kahn, Tadeusz Kantor, Krištof Kintera, Jürgen Klauke, Bartosz Kokosiński, Robert Kuśmirowski, Konrad Kuzyszyn, Milja Laurila, Dominik Lejman, Zoe Leonard, Zbigniew Libera, Marcin Maciejowski, Man Ray, Shahar Marcus, Bjørn Melhus / Yves Netzhammer, Edith Micansky, Aurelia Mihai, Andrzej Mleczko, Yasumasa Morimura, Sofie Muller, Julia Neuenhausen, Meret Oppenheim, ORLAN, Ben Patterson, Joanna Pawlik, Joanna Rajkowska, Sophie Ristelhueber, Wilhelm Sasnal, Nikita Shalennyi, Heather Sheehan, Kiki Smith, Annegret Soltau, Jo Spence, Daniel Spoerri, Alina Szapocznikow, Grzegorz Sztwiertnia, Nicole Tran Ba Vang, VALIE EXPORT, Hannah Wilke, Joel-Peter Witkin.


Installation description

The story of Henrietta Lacks is emblematic of thousands of other cases of people used in the pharma industry either to discover new findings or to test new medication without their consent.

With the support of scientists and physicians of the Istituto del Tumore di Milano, we had access to information and collect medical and scientific papers in which the HeLa cells are used and mentioned. In the installation, we presented these papers, side by side, like a tapestry of papers. The papers that did not mention Henrietta Lacks will receive a stamp (REJECTED). Those that mention Henrietta Lacks will receive a stamp (ACCEPTED). We will sign below the stamps. We also presented a plexiglass box with the image of Henrietta Lacks together with the text that is written on her grave.


Iaia Filiberti and Debora Hirsch main exhibitions together included: 2016 Gender in Art, MOCAK Museum of Contemporary Art in Krakow, Krakow; 2015 NIMBY, Il Chiostro Artecontemporanea, Saronno; 2013 Ida e Volta, MuBE, Burle Marx, Sao Paulo; 2013- 2012 Map Project, MAGA Gallarate and EX3, Firenze; 2012 Invisibilia, GAMC Palazzo Forti, Verona; 2012 Framed, Bernice Steinbaum Gallery, Miami; 2010 Framed video projection, 100 round trips to Hollywood, Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Turin, and Spazio Oberdan, Milan; 2009 Framed, VM21 gallery, Rome; 2008 Framed, Room Arte Contemporanea Milan.