CASEBOOKS: Six contemporary artists and an extraordinary medical archive
Jasmina Cibic, Federico Díaz, Lynn Hershman Leeson, Rémy Markowitsch, Lindsay Seers, Tunga
17 March - 23 April 2017
Private view: Thursday 16 March 6:30 - 8:30pm
Ambika P3 and the Casebooks Project at the University of Cambridge present CASEBOOKS, a major exhibition engaging with one of the largest surviving sets of medical records in history. International contemporary artists Jasmina Cibic, Federico Díaz, Lynn Hershman Leeson, Rémy Markowitsch, Lindsay Seers and Tunga bring a diverse and radical range of practices to bear on the work of the Casebooks Project, which is editing the manuscripts of two seventeenth-century English astrologer-physicians Simon Forman and his protégé Richard Napier. The manuscripts document some 80,000 medical consultations, and are testament to the preoccupations of patients with questions of health, disease, fertility, stability and their place within wider natural and supernatural schemes.
CASEBOOKS presents six new works spanning sculpture, video and audio installation, live performance, robotics and artificial intelligence. The Casebooks Project worked closely with each artist to establish resonances between the artists’ own work and historically acute questions about the nature of the casebooks, the kind of medical practice they represented and their significance for our understanding of medicine and natural knowledge. Ambika P3 engaged in a curatorial dialogue with each artists to encourage both an encounter with its vast post industrial space and the use of an original and complementary ecology of media.
Jasmina Cibic’s new work, Unforseen Foreseens, is a site-specific 12m long corridor installation fusing sculpture and performance, and alluding to the relationships between astrology, power and architecture. Federico Díaz is presenting a trade fair booth of a fictional initiative BIG LIGHT, offering a glimpse into a possible future of merging biological and technological scientific progress with social changes through augmented techno-shamanistic rituals. Lynn Hershman Leeson’s Real-Fiction Botnik is a 3D holographic Artificial Intelligence bot with a brain shaped by seventeenth-century astrological consultations, who is able to offer on-the-spot personal predictions. The Casebooks Calf by Rémy Markowitsch is a large-scale sculpture of a calf made of the same calfskin as the bindings of the casebooks, and from which emanate readings selected from the original seventeenth-century consultations. Seers’ work Mental Metal considers, through Simon Forman's writings, how elements of contemporary life have passed beyond causal, materialist/mechanistic Newtonian concepts to quantum speculations that have a hint of the supernatural about them. Following a method of correspondences as Forman did in his astral cosmology Seers' work is also shaped by affinities and Neoplatonic ideals of unification. Me, You and the Moon, a recent work chosen for the exhibition by the late artist Tunga, is a monolithic sculptural constellation of clay, rock and organic materials symbolising alchemy, astrology and the senses.
CASEBOOKS is curated by Dr Michael Mazière and is a collaboration between the Casebooks Project, Ambika P3, and the artists. The Casebooks side of the collaboration has been led by Dr Lauren Kassell, Director of the Casebooks Project and Dr Natalie Kaoukji, Research Fellow at the Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge.
CASEBOOKS is supported by a Wellcome Trust Provision for Public Engagement, with additional funding from the University of Westminster; Pro Helvetia; Czech Centre London; Pembroke College, Cambridge; Department of History and Philosophy of Science, Cambridge. Simon Forman’s and Richard Napier’s original manuscript casebooks are held in the Bodleian Library, University of Oxford.