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Scar of Visibility

Medical Performances and Contemporary Art

Scar of Visibility by Petra Kuppers
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Contemporary visual and performance artists have adopted modern medical technologies such as MRIs and computer imagingÑand the bodily access they implyÑto reveal their limitations. In doing so they emphasize the unknowability of anotherÕs bodily experience and the effectsÑphysical, emotional, and socialÑof medical procedures.In The Scar of Visibility, Petra Kuppers examines the use of medical imagery practices in contemporary art, as well as different arts of everyday life (self-help groups, community events, Internet sites), focusing on fantasies and Òknowledge projectsÓ surrounding the human body. Among the works she investigates are the controversial Body Worlds exhibition of plastinized corpses; video projects by Shimon Attie on diabetes and Douglas Gordon on mental health and war trauma; performance pieces by Angela Ellsworth, Bob Flanagan, and Kira OÕReilly; films like David CronenbergÕs Crash and Marina de VanÕs In My Skin that fetishize body wounds; representations of the AIDS virus in the National Museum of Health and on CSI: Crime Scene Investigations; and the paintings of outsider artist Martin Ram’rez.At the heart of this work is the scarÑa place of production, of repetition and difference, of multiple nerve sensations, fragile skin, outer sign, and bodily depth. Through the embodied sign of the scar, Kuppers articulates connections between subjective experience, history, and personal politics. Illustrated throughout, The Scar of Visibility broadens our understanding of the significance of medical images in visual culture.
University of Minnesota Press; January 2007
272 pages; ISBN 9780816697687
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Title: Scar of Visibility
Author: Petra Kuppers