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The University of Southampton
Critical Practices Research Group

Hybrid Bodies

Andrew Carnie: watercolour painting from Hybrid Bodies project

Hybrid Bodies is a project funded by the SSHRC, Conseil de recherches en sciences humaines Canada, which brings together the perspectives of both artists and sciences dealing with the complexity of experiences and understanding relating to organ transplantation. Andrew Carnie, from Winchester School of Art, is one of the four artists working on the project.

Few organs are as charged as the human heart. Seen as both the seat of human identity and the archetypal symbol of love, it is an organ that has been ascribed qualities and associations far beyond its anatomical functions.

While significant research has been conducted in transplantation using the bio-medical model, few researchers have explicitly connected organ recipients’ experiences and cultural views about transplantation to the notion of embodiment. The aim of this project, the Hybrid Bodies Project is to further explore the complexity of organ transplantation in a novel way, which makes it accessible to the public by providing context to discuss and explore these ideas. It is a unique interdisciplinary project that brings together artists, theorists, and an interdisciplinary medical research team to examine the emotional and psychological effects that occur among many heart transplant recipients. Today the medical model is understood well and heart transplant is almost a routine operation. However, the nature and prevalence of the psychological and emotional disruptions that confront heart transplant patients are less well understood.

Four artists, Alexa Wright (UK), Catherine Richards (Canada), Andrew Carnie (UK), and Ingrid Bachmann (Canada), were invited to make works that respond to a trandisciplinary research project, PITH (The Process of Incorporating a Transplanted Heart)” led by Dr. Heather Ross, chief transplant cardiologist at the Toronto General Hospital Cardiac Unit; health researcher Dr. Pat McKeever; transplant psychiatrist, Dr. Susan Abbey; social worker Dr. Jennifer Poole (Ryerson University); and British philosopher Dr. Margrit Shildrick (Queen’s University Belfast).

Work from this project was shown at the PHI Center, part of the DHC Gallery in January 2014 and at at Kunstkraftwerk, Leipzig, Germany, in August 2016.

More information is available on the Hybrid Bodies website.

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