The theme of illness and the threat to health is something that is hanging above us all during these recent pandemic times. The fear of contagion, the acknowledgment of the possibility that one may fall ill is a silent companion. This group exhibition deals with the sense of vulnerability and objectification that accompany treatment and hospitalization.
Carla Steinbrecher – Christine – Elisabeth – Elisabeth W. – Elke – Evita Emersleben – Fabian – Gunda – Insa Pape – Johanna – Johanna Wildhagen – Kathrin Stalder – Lea Berndl – Marion – Michaela Marcian – Nina Romming – Norma Ingenfeld – Raphael – Sigrid + 5 anonymous participants
Artist and performer Hannah Santana initiated the participatory art project How does it feel? in February 2019, looking on social media for prospective participants among patients currently suffering from an illness or people that have been recently in treatment. The 24 participants who accepted her invitation – consisting of 21 women and 3 men between 19 and 77 years old from Germany and Switzerland – received a plain patient hospital gown, which they then inscribed and processed with thoughts about their experiences.
The focus of this project is not on a specific disease or disease itself, but on the human being and their world of thoughts, first as an individual and then as a collective. The process of using the patient gown as a medium allowed the participants to externalize their inner states, thoughts and experiences, resulting also in the possibility of allowing others to enter their secluded and emotional spaces. Within this process, the gowns were alienated from their original purpose, becoming a canvas for the articulation of inner feelings; an open and non-judgemental space for self-expression.
Hospital practice is beginning to be more widely researched and questioned in search of more holistic approaches. Currently, patients are expected to conform to strict hospital standards once hospitalized, and are allocated in plain and aseptic rooms with very few personal items, dressed uniformly in plain gowns, in an environment that can’t reflect their personality or allow its expression. Dehumanized, objectified, and reduced to their medical condition, patients often feel devalued, undignified, and vulnerable, their medical condition becoming more real and defining, potentially negatively affecting the healing process.
Santana’s installation of the gowns in the gallery, floating from the ceiling, gives the artworks an intimate, poetic and pensive aura. The presence of the feelings and thoughts expressed on these smocks is emotionally impactful. The dedication that these current or former patients have put in the personalization of the gown stands in strong contrast with the common standards of hospital care. The handwriting, the thoughts and words of the patients transform the gowns and give a voice to the invisible traces of the everyday life of disease.
How does it Feel? – group exhibition/art project organized by Hannah Santana
July 28th – August 15th, 2020, Tuesday-Saturday 2-7 pm, entry free
SomoS, Kottbusser Damm 95, 1.0G, 10967 Berlin (U8 – Schönleinstraße)