Monday, May 25, 2009

Blog of the Artist who did the Attic in Jenner Museum

I remember talking in class about our afterthoughts on the Jenner Museum attic and the consensus seemed to be that the artist missed the point and made it too much of theatrical experience. We left the attic feeling confused, terrified (or at least I was after the torso mannequin lurched out at me from behind the door), and distracted from the topic of Jenner and smallpox. Ultimately, the discussion ended with the questions, "What was the museum exactly going for? How did the donators react?"

Well, I found this website from one of the artists commissioned to work on the attic. She chronicles the attic's development from idea to establishment, providing a lot of answers to many of our inquiries. For example, if you're craving to know what exactly was going on in the artist's head behind the attic's design, she provides an answer and says:

"My interest as an artist is in psycho-history: revealing the interplay between psychology and history. Research uncovered an incident in the young Edward Jenner's life, which, for me, goes a long way in explaining this sometimes conflicted man and his work."

...with her ultimate goal stated here:

"And what I hope to do is to get people to question how they judge the ethics of medical procedures - whether they see it as relative (to the social mores of the time) or absolute.

To be honest, to get people to think about ethics at all, rather than "leaving it to the experts will be enough."

Her blog highlights the intricacies and difficulties behind presenting to others about a certain disease through artistic methods. While I originally thought the exhibit was too heavily focused on the artistry and not enough on Jenner and smallpox, I was proven wrong after reading her blog. She conducted a lot of research prior to designing and then constructing the project, reading a lot of Jenner's works and related ones on the disease's impact. She really expresses concern on how to get people to empathize with those harmed by smallpox. Her blog not only explores art theories in relaying the emotions and experiences of smallpox victims, but also ties in a lot of modern day concerns that she and her colleagues face regarding current MMR vaccines and the government health programs.

Anyway, I recommend this site to everyone in this class considering we had such strong opinions on the exhibit. It definitely provides more clarity on the exhibit and I think it less of a sham now; however, I'm not ready to let go of the mannequin incident... I will when I stop having nightmares about it.


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