Illness is suffered, ignored, administered, imaged and idealized. It serves as sign and metaphor: cancer, Aids, the poet’s illness of tuberculosis, which makes the body transparent, and recently dementia as synonym for the repression of Nazi crimes by a generation. Not all illnesses lend themselves however to an aesthetic signification: for what should arthrosis stand, or diabetes? Interpreting illness as a punishment imposed by God has gone out of fashion in our age (even if there were efforts to do so with Aids) – the question remains which illnesses does society first generate, which ones does it name, recognize, which ones are suppressed and rendered speechless. And which normality, which health (in these hygiene-fetishistic times) are demanded when smoking, eating and drinking suddenly no longer fit the desired image of humanity?
An enacted conference on the dual citizenship of illness.
“Illness is the night-side of life, a more onerous citizenship. Everyone who is born holds dual citizenship, in the kingdom of the well and in the kingdom of the sick. Although we all prefer to use only the good passport, sooner or later each of us is obliged, at least for a spell, to identify ourselves as citizens of the other place.” Susan Sontag, Illness as Metaphor.
Traditionally, art is responsible for reevaluating illness, for giving a positive cast to decomposition, the morbid and deviating. Together with specific forms of activism, art has created emphatic traditions which celebrate illness as an opportunity for accruing knowledge, discovering a language of the body, or to praise its etherealizing through suffering, extolling otherness and thus enabling art to mirror itself in its position of social outsider. But today artists are no longer the outsiders of society; as neoliberal subjects, they are fully integrated and accorded the role of being guiding models – and thus illness has lost its passionate advocate. Health and constant optimization of the quality of life are the fetish of our age. The subversive potential of the ill has vanished. Who are we as a patient?
In 1977 the Styrian Academy staged the legendary congress “Utopia Health” with Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, who with her lecture on euthanasia gave further impetus to the development of the hospice movement in Styria. The psychotherapist and physician Hans Strotzka presented new considerations in the field of social psychiatry at the first crisis intervention center in Graz, while Ivan Illich spoke about self-help and the self-responsibility of the patient.
The Patient thematically took up the thread of the historical congress and brought together medical historians, cultural theorists and nursing scientists, artists, doctors and patients, to pursue the question as to the role illness plays today as a permanently present second world within the first world of health: as reality and metaphor, as a line of development, as a form of life and possibility.
Barbara Duden (D): Disparate Welten. Vom Abgrund zwischen Patientenerzählungen und Diagnose;
Josef Smolle (A): Kompetenz und Fragmentierung. Das Krankenhaus zwischen Möglichkeit und Zweck;
Christian Fazekas (A): Der Patient als Partner. Gesprächsführung und Partizipation in der medizinischen Ausbildung;
Harald Haynert (D): Ethik als nicht exklusiver Schutzbereich. Über Pflege, Anerkennung und Bedürftigkeit;
Hermes Phettberg (A) im Gespräch mit Claus Philipp (A): Krankheit als Haltung;
Daniel Tyradellis (D): Fachchinesisch und Liebesgeflüster. Zur Professionalisierung des Kranken;
Bernd Kräftner (A): Das Syndrom als Schiff. Ein künstlerisches Diagnosedispositiv;
Céline Kaiser (D): Therapie-Szenen. Fallgeschichten der Theatrotherapie
Aya Ben Ron (IL): Shift (2009-2011, 29 min);
Marcus Coates (GB): The Trip (2010, 35 min);
Florian Riegel (D): Holding Still (2010, 26 min)
Discussions on the specific professional field of the experts take place in smaller working groups. With: Harald Haynert (D), Karl Harnoncourt (A), Céline Kaiser (D), Eveline Kerecz (A), Bernd Kräftner (A), Gustav Mittelbach (A) & Rainer Possert (A).
Curated by Hannah Hurtzig and Florian Malzacher
Assistance: Johanna Rainer
Production management: Markus Boxler
Thanks to the Krankenhaus der Barmherzigen Brüder Graz, especially Franz Rainer and Günther Weber as well as Magda Copony, Barbara Gronau, Sera Isak, Sabine Janouschek, Lore Offenmüller & Hermann Toplak
A production of steirischer herbst, Graz