Confronting age-old taboos around the pathology of the body and its dissolution, poet/performer Valerie Laws, visual artist/film maker Susan Aldworth and wax sculptor Eleanor Crook explore and even celebrate the terrible beauty of the dying process, down to cellular level. Uniquely, they focus on the physiological events rather than the emotional or psychological effects; paradoxically, they hope the result will inform both medical professionals and the wider public and deepen understanding of 'this fatal subject.'
This is an exploration and description of the process and physiology of dying. A collaboration between visual art, poetry and science that will reveal the interdependence of living and dying at a cellular level and its consequence for human identity. Science has many elegant descriptions of "alive" and "dead" but reaches its limits at the experience of death and dying. This where art and poetry offer insight beyond the limits of the scientific method and where our interdisciplinary approach will give a contemporary definition of death in its cultural context. Our innovative approach offers an audience an original perspective. This Fatal Subject is a very exciting and innovative project, in which the three resident artists, with the help and support of Professor Susan Standring at KCL and Bill Edwards at the Gordon Museum, are working with scientists at KCL and elsewhere, researching the physical process of dying.
This show represents the climax of Phase One of the project, which has been funded by the Wellcome Trust as a Research and Development Arts Award. During this year, the artists made contact with scientists, forged working relationships, and shared their research findings into this vital, and fatal subject. They have been collecting material and information for their work, and developing their artistic practices too. Aldworth, Laws and Crook work as three individual practitioners, but are also developing collaborative work which breaks down barriers between their different art forms. Phase Two of This Fatal Subject is planned to begin in 2009, culminating in production of groundbreaking individual and collaborative work on the science of dying, which will form public exhibitions in London and elsewhere, as well as publication and performance.
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