Reveal, Diagnose, Inhabit. An exploration of current medical interventions Residency the departments of radiology, histology and pathology, Galway University Hospital
In June 2014 McGibbon began a three-month self-directed residency in the Galway University Hospital (GUH) in the departments of Radiology, Histology and Pathology. The project was made possible by Margaret Flannery, the director of the Galway Arts trust and Marie Cox, the director of nursing (GUH). Dr David O’Keefe, Consultant Radiologist, Dr Teresa McHale, Consultant Pathologist and Terri Muldoon, Chief Medical Scientist.
The primary objective of the residency was to gain a comprehensive understanding of human anatomy, with a focus on the prevailing medical technologies that extend the lives of patients. However like many practiced led explorations, the project did not begin with a closed series of aims, rather it developed organically from conversations with the medical staff, observations of interactions and a keen interest in creating work from the bio-technologies in the laboratory.
Anatomical explorations have been an overarching theme of interest throughout McGibbons entire arts practice, particularly the concept of the “normal body” and the anthropology of bodily otherness. During the residency McGibbon investigated how this notion of “normal” is viewed through the medical lens. The artists investigations explored the concept of the “invisible normal”, the irregularities that are not perceptible to the human eye but yet distinguish between healthy and unwell, able and un-able, self and other.
Over the course of the residency McGibbon observed the interactions between patients and the technologies that revealed their concealed glitches. She speculated on the solitary experience of the patient and contemplated how often encounters within the hospital environment create a new narrative for the everyday life of the patients.
Establishing an interdisciplinary discourse with the medical staff was a key to the success of the project. McGibbon collaborated with the scientists and created work by adapting the medical technologies and processes ordinarily used to analyze the body. An example of this is “Close your eyes and imagine you’re somewhere else” created with collected data from magnetic resonance imaging data and “Dysplasia” created using the histological analysis system.
Following this immersive period of research McGibbon returned to the studio to develop her work. She aspired to create an interactive laboratory of sorts, within which the audience becomes the analyst, scientist and artwork. McGibbon created interactive works that mimicked the experience of analysing the body and a large installation that simulated the solo experience of the patient. The works function as an assemblage of interconnected ideas explored during the course of my research.
The outcome of this period of research in UHG culminated in a large body of work that was exhibited in two solo exhibitions in the Luan Gallery, Athlone and the Roscommon Arts Centre.