it begins…

As an artist and writer with a deep interest in the relation between art and medicine I am very happy to be working on the Doctor : Patient : Doctor project. As a way of introduction this first post on my blog page consists of my ‘Artist’s Statement’.

As the project continues I will be posting regularly here and please feel free to leave any any comments or feedback either on the work itself or the rationale behind it.

Jac Saorsa, February 2016

Artist Statement

Art and medical science have romanced each other throughout history. As an artist and researcher the focus of my work is to reinstate the import of art in relation to medical science and achieve a productive balance between the objective necessity to treat the disease, and a more subjective understanding of the existential experience of illness. This calls for a re-negotiation of arts role and value in relation to medicine and contemporary practice, and, as an artist ‘in medicine’ I work towards the advocacy of patient autonomy and the ‘humanisation’ of the medical relationship. Using portraiture as a conceptual and articulatory ‘framework’ I understand my visual work as creating what I call a ‘meta-language’, a form of communication through art practice that goes beyond both the verbal language with which the patient tells his or her story, and the visual language manifest in my drawings and paintings.

Through my own experience of working with patients and with health professionals in the clinic, the ward, or the operating theatre environment (and indeed in the dissection lab) I have come to understand what I do as an empathic ‘act of witness’. My practice as a whole is based on observation and reflection on personal experience. The ‘autoethnographic stance’ is a position that I have been developing throughout my research wherein the concept of ‘abjection’ is profoundly understood as beyond its usual interpretation. I position myself then as the ‘abject artist’, or more precisely, as Kristeva’s ‘deject’, through whom the abject exists.

My aim is not to posit objective truths, but rather to expand and enrich the dialogue between art and medical science through offering subjective insight. The results of my work, in public art exhibitions and in digital and written form, are intended to communicate across the boundaries of convention and taboo. The meta-language created in and through the artwork becomes itself a ‘voice’ that can articulate the nuances of suffering so that, in dialogue with the drawings, the viewer is invited to engage at a profound, intuitive level and thus enhance his or her awareness and understanding of the existential and very ‘human’ experience of illness


Author: Jac Saorsa

I am an independent visual artist, writer and researcher in philosophy and contemporary art practice, primarily in the field of Medical Humanities. I am Director of The Broadway Drawing School in Cardiff, UK. I hold a PhD in Fine Art and a PhD in Creative Writing.

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