Compassion

 

Διοργανωτής – Σκοπός

Η Compassion είναι μια μη κερδοσκοπική εικαστική κολλεκτίβα εθελοντών, που δραστηριοποιείται στο Αμβούργο, στην Αθήνα και στη Λευκωσία. Οι εικαστικοί και οι θεωρητικοί επιστήμονες που συμμετέχουν επιχειρούν να κατανοήσουν το χώρο της ασθένειας και του συσχετιζόμενου πόνου, σε μια προσπάθεια ενδυνάμωσης της ενσυναίσθησης για τους πάσχοντες και ευαισθητοποίησης του κοινού, μέσω καλλιτεχνικών και θεωρητικών οδών, για τη σημασία της βελτίωσης της θέσης του ασθενούς στην κοινωνία και, ειδικότερα, εντός του συστήματος περίθαλψης, ιδιαίτερα σε περίοδο παρατεταμένης οικονομικής κρίσης.

Η Conipassion φιλοδοξεί να αποτελέσει μια πλατφόρμα που θα συνιστά σημείο συνάντησης για διάφορους εταίρους, φιλόσοφους, εικαστικούς, ειδικούς στο χώρο της υγείας, ψυχολόγους και άλλους ενδιαφερομένους, με στόχους (α) την κατανόηση της θέσης των χρόνια πάσχοντων στην κοινωνία (β) την άσκηση πίεσης για βελτίωση της θέσης του ασθενούς εντός του συστήματος περίθαλψης και (γ) την ευαισθητοποίηση των εργαζόμενων στο χώρο της υγείας για τη σημασία της υποκειμενικής εμπειρίας των ασθενών κατά την ιατρική περίθαλψη.

Στόχοι

  • Προώθηση νέων μορφών εικαστικής δημιουργίας που παρεμβαίνουν σε κοινωνικά ζητήματα.
  • Ενθάρρυνση του διεπιστημονικού διαλόγου ανάμεσα σε εικαστικούς, θεωρητικούς της τέχνης, ψυχολόγους, φιλοσόφους και γιατρούς αναφορικά με το νόημα της ασθένειας και την κατανόηση της φαινομενολογίας της.
  • Υποστήριξη ακαδημαϊκής έρευνας στα πεδία της φιλοσοφίας και της αισθητικής.
  • Προβολή του έργου Ελλήνων εικαστικών και διάνοιξη πολιτιστικών διαύλων επικοινωνίας μεταξύ εικαστικών που δραστηριοποιούνται στον ευρωπαϊκό νότο και εικαστικών από την υπόλοιπη Ευρώπη.
  • Ευαισθητοποίηση του κοινού αναφορικά με την κατάσταση των ασθενών με χρόνιες παθήσεις και τη θέση τους στην κοινωνία, ιδιαίτερα εν μέσω περιόδου οικονομικής κρίσης.
  • Έκδοση τόμου στην ελληνική/αγγλική/γερμανική γλώσσα με τα έργα των εικαστικών και κείμενα από σημαντικούς ακαδημαϊκούς και ερευνητές από τα πεδία της φιλοσοφίας, της αισθητικής και της ιστορίας της τέχνης.

 

Α’ κύκλος δράσεων – Βερολίνο

Στο χώρο του ιστορικού Kijnstlerhaus Bethanien του Βερολίνου, μεταξύ 6 και 22 Οκτωβρίου 2015, παρουσιάστηκαν έργα Κυπρίων, Ελλήνων, Αυστριακών και Γερμανών εικαστικών στη διοργάνωση υπό τον τίτλο “Compassion: On the phenomenology of being ill”. Η διοργάνωση πραγματεύτηκε ζητήματα γύρω από τη φιλοσοφία του πόνου/φαινομενολογία του πόνου και της ασθένειας, την έννοια της empathy, ηθικά ζητήματα που αφορούν τη θεραπεία, το πάσχον σώμα στην τέχνη κ.α.

Στην έκθεση συμμετείχαν οι εικαστικοί Ulay (Γερμανία), Enrique Fuentes (Αυστρία/ Μεξικό), Giinter Brus (Αυστρία), Sylvia Henze (Γερμανία), Αλέξανδρος Ψυχούλης (Ελλάδα), Νικόλας Γυφτάκης (Ελλάδα), Ερατώ Χατζησάββα (Κύπρος), Χρίστος Αβραάμ (Κύπρος), Κυριάκος Κουσουλίδης (Κύπρος), Πέννυ Μονογιού (Κύπρος), Μιχάλης Παπαμιχαήλ (Γερμανία/Κύπρος) και ο σκηνοθέτης Γιάννης Πόθος (Ελλάδα).

Στην έκδοση που θα ακολουθήσει την έκθεση συμμετέχουν οι Joanna Bourke (Birkbeck University of London), Ελένη Φιλιππάκη (Ανοιχτό Πανεπιστήμιο Ελλάδος), Κώστας Ιωαννίδης (Ανωτάτη Σχολή Καλών Τεχνών), Αντώνης Χατζημωυσής (Εθνικό και Καποδιστριακό Πανεπιστήμιο Αθηνών), Φαίη Ζήκα (Ανωτάτη Σχολή Καλών Τεχνών), Δήμητρα Μακρυνιώτη (Εθνικό και Καποδιστριακό Πανεπιστήμιο Αθηνών), Πέπη Ρηγοπούλου (Εθνικό και Καποδιστριακό Πανεπιστήμιο Αθηνών), Άρης Σαραφιανός (Πανεπιστήμιο Ιωαννίνων), Λάρα Σκουρλά (Ανοιχτό Πανεπιστήμιο Ελλάδος), Σπόρος Πετρουνάκος (Εθνικό Μετσόβιο Πολυτεχνείο), Έφη Κυπριανίδου (Ανοιχτό Πανεπιστήμιο Κύπρου), ενώ την επιμέλεια έχει αναλάβει η Έφη Κυπριανίδου.

 

Περιγραφή δράσης Kunstlerhaus Bethanien

Ο χώρος του KQnstlerhaus Bethanien διαμορφώθηκε αισθητικά ως νοσοκομειακή πτέρυγα δωματίων αλλαγής πληγών / αναμονής πριν την υποβολή σε θεραπεία. Για το σκοπό αυτό, στη βάση αρχιτεκτονικής μελέτης που εκπονήθηκε, διαχωρίστηκαν μικρά δωματιάκια-κουβούκλια, με χρήση νοσοκομειακών κουρτινών και διαχωριστικών.

Οι καλλιτέχνες δημιούργησαν έργα in situ, ο κάθε ένας σε ένα από τα προαναφερθέντα δωματιάκια.

Παρουσιάστηκαν έργα από όλο το φάσμα των εικαστικών τεχνών όπως video art, όπως video-εγκαταστάσεις, performance video, documentary / experimental / narrative / interactive video και εγκαταστάσεις που περιλαμβάνουν τη χρήση λογισμικού και περιλαμβάνουν διάδραση, καθώς επίσης ζωγραφική και εγκαταστάσεις.

 

Compassion

Illness in a Diseased Era

“Illness is subjective – illness is a story, the story of the person”

Eric Cassel, The Nature of Suffering.

“What the phenomenological approach is concerned to show is not simply that the patient’s experience should be taken into account as a subjective accounting of an abstract ‘objective’ reality, but that the patient’s experiencing must be taken into account because such lived experience represents the reality of the patient’s illness.”

Kay Toombs, Illness as lived experience

“Illness is apart of every human being’s experience. It enhances our perceptions and reduces self- consciousness. It is the great confessional; things are said, truths are blurted out which health conceals.”

Virginia Woolf, On Being III

Medical sciences’ achievements in depicting the human body have enhanced the belief that we “see-in” the body. Medical imaging technology, such as Computed Tomography (CT), Positron Emission Tomography (PET) or Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) allow us to have a direct visual experience of the body’s condition. It could be argued that the doctors now have an unprecedented knowledge of how things inside the body are; of all the pathologies and traumas of a human body. The notion of “seeing” inside the body is tightly connected to the possibility of cure or remission[1]. However, understanding what it is like, from the patient’s perspective, to be ill, what it is like being in (the) pain (of illness) cannot be accommodated by the medical sciences. Joanna Bourke comments that ‘with brain imaging technologies from the late twentieth century, the subjective person-in-pain could be eradicated altogether’ (Bourke 2014, 9) while pain is treated as ‘an altered brain state in which functional connections are modihed, with components of degenerative aspects’ (Camparesi 2011, cited in Bourke, ibid).

Being ill is described by medical discourse as a state of pathological disfunction of the body, while the experience of illness – that is, what it is like being in a state of illness – seems neglected or even as having little meaning to the medical practice. The disruption of everyday activities, the loss of capacities that until the time of illness were exercised without being noticed, as for example the loss of taste during chemotherapy and, of course, bodily and psychological pain are just some aspects of the experience of being ill. Illness, and the consequent exposure to pain brought on not just by the symptoms but also from aggressive treatments and side effects of drugs signify a situation that terrihes; that arouses pity; but that is rarely understood from a phenomenological, ontological or ethical point of view.

Being in a state of illness and suffering means, hrst of all, that the body loses a number of capacities that had acquired during its life so far. The sufferer secs her body as not being able to perform its everyday activities easily; the body is no longer an implicit and without conditions ally; the sufferer has to deal with its resistance and sometimes apparent physiological changes. The sufferer experiences a sense of agony, in that her body language unwillingly alters. Herself, her own body, seems and feels different; it is estranged; therefore, her relation to the external world is disturbed and she has to learn from the beginning to cope with it. The person in illness faces ‘the disruption of the taken-for-granted world of everyday life’[2].

Furthermore, this alteration seems unspeakable, in the sense that it is difficult to be described. In a way, language fails to represent what seems like a subjective and private experience. Words seem inappropriate to express the presence of pain and the agony of illness. Access to new linguistic manners and conceptual schemes is needed; as the doctor and writer Richard Selzer wrote “Pain invents its own language”[3]. Metaphors are chosen to represent what was until now in the sphere of the unknown: “The air burning my lungs like a red- hot iron or cutting into them like a sharpened razor” (Albert Camus); “My stomach feels like the crop of a hen” (Katherine Mansheld); “The pain in his chest was like a tight breastplate” (Graham Swift); “Pains … like streams of pulsating hre heating him to an intolerable temperature” (Ambrose Bierce). In other words, illness and pain isolate the sufferers because of the difficulty to express their being in that state. For how can the sufferer adequately describe a case in which her own body ceases to appear familiar? The patient’s body becomes the object of treatment in a way that the patient feels she is gradually loosing her hrst-pcrsonal access to its condition.

Furthermore, the patient has to deal with issues regarding their access to

healthcare system, the quality and the cost of the services provided. The ongoing economic recession has affected factors that determine health since many European governments have reduced public expenditure on health services during the hnancial crisis, while introducing or increasing user charges (McDaid 2013). The impact of the current hnancial crisis on health outcomes and on patient treatment has already emerged. Many European governments have reduced public expenditure on health services during the hnancial crisis, while introducing or increasing user charges. As it is stressed, in Greece “the drastic curtailing of government spending has significantly affected the structure and functioning of public hospitals that cope with understafhng, deheits, drug shortage and basic medical supplies’ (Ifanti et al 2013).

Moreover, little is said about the pharmaceutical industry’s dubious ethical policies, such as ‘hiring ghostwriters to write favourable journal articles, rigging study designs to produce favourable results, hiding unflattering results, failing to publish negative hndings, promoting off-label drug use, giving bribes and kickbacks in return for promises to prescribe, and intimidating researchers whose results counter a company’s interests’ (Kassirer 2005).

How do we enter the space of illness and pain related to it; Is it possible to gain an understanding and a kind of access to somebody else’s feeling of pain and, perhaps, despair that goes hand in hand with illness; And, moreover, what could be art’s role in such a project, since as Susan Sontag famously said “it seems unimaginable to aestheticise the disease”[4]? Gan art help us express, through aesthetic reflection, what it is like to be ill?

The Compassion artists will not see art as a veil that overshadows the horrors of pain and illness by ascribing them some metaphysical purposefulness; neither will art be taken to offer an ‘ethereal flight from the fears and difficulties of serious illness’[5]. On the contrary, the project aims at offering an engagement with the phenomenology of being ill and in pain, based on the assumption that

art can offer us a special kind of knowledge about what it is like to be in a given situation[6]. Although the truth and the facts of being ill are well described by modern medicine and by the physicians to their patients, it is doubtful that such propositional knowledge can gain us an understanding of the hardness of the somatic dimension of being in pain; of lying ill in a hospital bed; of the fear and despair that accompanies the hearing of a cancer diagnosis. An artwork can function as an exercise of empathy, through the distinctive understanding that can prompt. It can address questions on the phenomenology of pain and illness that can be of value to medical practitioners; to the patients’ companions; to people addressing questions about the meaning of life, illness and death; and, in special cases, to the sufferers’ themselves.

The central idea that the exhibition aims to develop is that phenomenology of pain and illness, discussed and developed through artworks, provides valuable insights into a number of issues associated with illness and medical practice. Such issues include: the distinction between the objective approach of western medicine and the subjective experience of illness and pain; the relationship between art, medicine and phenomenology; the meaning of health, illness and pain; the problem of communicating emotions related to illness and pain; the effort for empathic understanding; the relationship between the sufferer and the physician; the quest for equal access to healthcare system; and the ethics of medical treatment in the light of some of the pharmaceutical industry’s questionable practices.

 

Έργα που παρουσιάστηκαν στο Compassion

 

 

 

 

[1] Kevlcs, Bettyann. Naked to the bone: Medical imaging in the twentieth century. Rutgers University Press, 1997.

[2]  Garro, Linda. “Chronic illness and the construction of narratives.” in Pain as human experience: An anthropological perspective (1992): 100-137, p. 104.

[3]  Morris, David B. ’’Beauty and Pain: Notes on the Art of Richard Selzer.” The Iowa Review (1980): 124-130.

[4] Sontag, Susan. Illness as Metaphor. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 1978, p. 20.

[5] Radley, Alan. “The aesthetics of illness: narrative, horror and the sublime.” Sociology of Health & Illness 21.6 (1999): 778-796, p. 779.

[6]  Pace Plato, it is argued that art affords a different kind of knowledge; a practical know- how, phenomenal knowledge, or access to ways of understanding the world that cannot be expressed in propositional terms, see Kieran, Matthew, and Dominic Lopes, eds. Knowing art: essays in aesthetics and epistemology. Vol. 107. Springer, 2007.