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Live Art Performance and the History of Medicine


The Centre for the History of Medicine and the School of Theatre, Performance and Cultural Policy Studies at Warwick have embarked on a collaboration to explore the common concerns of the disciplines of performance and medical history. The principal objective of the project is to create an environment in which a performance-based artist can develop work relevant to the history of medicine.

Interest in the project has been high: more than thirty artists responded to a call that went out spring 2004. Five were then selected to participate in ‘Body States: The Pilot Project’, an all day, HRC/HEROBAC-funded event held Saturday, 11 June, at which the artists presented and/or performed their work. For more information on 'Body States: The Pilot Project,' follow the link at right or click here.

Following this event the Centre and School selected interdisciplinary artist Phillip Warnell to be the focus of the collaboration. Phillip will develop performances, work with students, and participate in the research culture of both the Centre and the School. Further events and performances are planned at different stages of the overall project.


SUMMER 2008: Phillip Warnell has been awarded a fellowship from the Leverhulme Trust to be an Artist-in-Residence with the Centre, to start in September 2008. With this award Phillip will develop a project entitled 'The Anxious Object', which will involve the direct and mediated used of objects and archival materials pertaining to the body and the history of medicine drawn from museum collections and archives. For more information click here.

SPRING 2008: On 8 May, Phillip Warnell's film 'The Girl with X-ray Eyes' will be premiered at Warwick Arts Centre, with a live theremin accompaniment. Steven Connor (Birkbeck) will also speak on the popular fantasy of acquiring x-ray vision, and the Werner Herzog short documentary 'Bells from the Deep' will be screened. Following the event there will be a reception and 'The Girl with X-ray Eyes' book launch in the Mead Gallery. This event has been programmed in association with 'Introspection-Extramission,' new work by Phillip Warnell, an exhibition at the Leamington Spa Museum and Art Gallery, 18 April - 15 June. For more information click here.

AUTUMN 2007: Interdisciplinary artist Phillip Warnell has just been granted a Wellcome Trust Arts Award. With this award Phillip will undertake research and development for his project on transplantation, specifically through documentinig a live-donor transplant at University Hospital, Coventry, and related clinical procedures. He will seek suitable modes of representation that touch on the cultural, ethical, medical, biological and philosophical implications of transplantation. Phillip will also develop a prototype tag to be used with organ transporters for the purpose of tracking the movement of donor organs nationwide; this will feed into a later stage of the project, in which he will develop a real-time interface representing transplanation procedures taking place in the UK.

'Transplant' has been developed with the support of the Centre for the History of Medicine and the School of Theatre, Performance and Cultural Policy Studies; the Centre and School have been working with Phillip since 2005 to explore the common concerns of the history of medicine and live art performance. Dr Claudia Stein from the Centre and Dr Edward Scheer from Theatre Studies will work closely with Phillip on 'Transplant'.