ARTISTIC PRACTICE IN HEALTHCARE

The Body Recover Unit, A Whisk in Your Head?, a relaxation exercise created by and for working midwives, voice over by Toyin Adeyinka.

A strand of my artistic practice examines the potential for artistic projects to be developed within the context of healthcare, exploring both how administrative systems, practical context of care, and the healthcare system as the workers environment can become sites of artistic practice. I work with the existing ways that public art, socially engaged practice, and critical technical practice have been developed by groups such as Artist Placement Agency, Art and Language, where artists took the inside of public institutions and offices appropriating as sites of artistic practice to probe and critique bureaucratic forms of power. The framing of work as a public enquiry is also at the centre of YoHa’s (Matsuko Yokojoji & Graham Harwood) practice, who explore technical infrastructures and databases as sites of social concern, more specifically takes the context of bureaucracy and data management, from government offices to healthcare clinics as sites of artistic practice. These forms of social practices not only frame the work as politically ‘useful’ as termed by the artist Tania Bruguera and therefore firmly situated critically against the context of the art as commodity, they also signal that the collective might take both new material and technical form. In my practice I examine specifically how feminist artistic practice can intervene into forms of healthcare governance that presents itself as technically neutral, by drawing on practices on practices of maintenance and care within artistic practice. Projects include:

The National Catalogue of Savings Opportunities (2017) is a spoof savings catalogue developed by the Body Recovery Unit. The project explores how the rise in ‘intelligent’ cost-optimisation tools in healthcare governance such as the “Where to Look Packs” produced by NHS RightCare, impacts on the view of pregnant women’s bodies and behaviours. The booklet is designed to connect people with their data and intended for the waiting room at the antenatal clinic, so expecting women can look up what part of their body is the most cost saving to the NHS.

“Nappy Printing & Healthcare Cutting” (2017), is a workshop Exploring the potential of tactile and ‘imprecise’ visualisation techniques, this workshop introduces artistic with tools that allow us to look ‘underneath’ the data of healthcare, rather than at it, to tease out and discuss the social and political values of new healthcare governance.

A Whisk In Your Head” (2018) is a collaborative project by the Body Recovery Unit with Loes Bogers and voice over by healthcare activist and organiser Toyin Adeyinka. The work address the healthcare system from the perspective of its workers through a audio work developed with and for working midwives in the form of a  relaxation exercise. The relaxation exercise is based on midwives’ testimonies of their embodied experiences of midwifery work and its location in the body. Showcased at Lewisham maternity ward midwife well-being days in 2018 and 2019 with the support of Maternity Voices Partnership.

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