The laboratory is a place devoted to inquiry and the creation of new knowledge. As such, it can be compared to the artist's studio, which also proves to be a research venue as well as a place for the production of original knowledge and forms infused with the complexity of the world around us. This part of the exhibition deals with the work of artists who recapitulate the scientific process by devising various experimental procedures, revealing an often bookish relationship to knowledge, patenting their discoveries or handling living matter that evolves and transforms itself. Their creations involve collaborations with scientists, take advantage of the possibilities offered by instruments from outside the field of art, and evoke a desire for mastery over the unknown.
The laboratory is a place devoted to inquiry and the creation of new knowledge. As such, it can be compared to the artist's studio, which also proves to be a research venue as well as a place for the production of original knowledge and forms infused with the complexity of the world around us. This part of the exhibition deals with the work of artists who recapitulate the scientific process by devising various experimental procedures, revealing an often bookish relationship to knowledge, patenting their discoveries or handling living matter that evolves and transforms itself. Their creations involve collaborations with scientists, take advantage of the possibilities offered by instruments from outside the field of art, and evoke a desire for mastery over the unknown.

© Galerie de l'UQAM 2007. All rights reserved

Table, dictionary, glass vessels, water, cut-up dictionary definitions wall installation: vintage Pyrex test tubes, water, cut-up dictionary definitions, dissecting pins.

Photo: David Barbour
2002
© Cindy Stelmackowich, courtesy of Patrick Mikhail Gallery, Ottawa


In this piece, Cindy Stelmackowich critiques the dehumanization brought about by medical science. More specifically, she is interested in the relationships that exist between the body and scientific discourse, examining the ways in which each concept can be apprehended from the standpoint of the other. Scientific books, medical dictionaries and anatomy manuals are just some of the materials she uses. The installation Suspending the Laws of Medical Practice reveals the extent to which medicine is stuck on a lexical definition and objective representation of the body, reducing it to something to be studied and transforming it into a laboratory object. Thus Stelmackowich calls medical authority into question by showing the stony gaze that medicine brings to bear on the human body.
In this piece, Cindy Stelmackowich critiques the dehumanization brought about by medical science. More specifically, she is interested in the relationships that exist between the body and scientific discourse, examining the ways in which each concept can be apprehended from the standpoint of the other. Scientific books, medical dictionaries and anatomy manuals are just some of the materials she uses. The installation Suspending the Laws of Medical Practice reveals the extent to which medicine is stuck on a lexical definition and objective representation of the body, reducing it to something to be studied and transforming it into a laboratory object. Thus Stelmackowich calls medical authority into question by showing the stony gaze that medicine brings to bear on the human body.

© Galerie de l'UQAM 2007. All rights reserved

Table, dictionary, glass vessels, water, cut-up dictionary definitions wall installation: vintage Pyrex test tubes, water, cut-up dictionary definitions, dissecting pins.

Photo: David Barbour, Artist: Cindy Stelmackowich

© Cindy Stelmackowich, courtesy of Patrick Mikhail Gallery, Ottawa


Table, dictionary, glass vessels, water, cut-up dictionary definitions wall installation: vintage Pyrex test tubes, water, cut-up dictionary definitions, dissecting pins.

Photo: David Barbour, Artist: Cindy Stelmackowich
2002
© Cindy Stelmackowich, courtesy of Patrick Mikhail Gallery, Ottawa


During the past five years my artwork has explored the inter-relationship between art and medical science. This series of artworks has questioned how science gets performed on the body and how the languages of science operate. Utilizing new and old medical diagrams, laboratory equipment and medical reference books, I have focused on the ways that medical science is a discourse which does not yield a final truth but has a widening cultural field of visibility. Whether tracing emotional and personal histories against the languages of medical objectivity, or suspending actual dictionary definitions of body parts, these works beckon us to reconsider the authority of medical texts and their orders of objective knowledge.

In the installation Suspending the Laws of Medical Practice, the language of sculpture is combined with the language of science. Individual vintage test tubes, pinned into the gallery wall with long dissecting pins, each contain strips of dictionary definitions. Suspended in water, these objects question assumptions about scientific observation and the authority of objective recording.

In a couple of cases, this wall installation was paired with Read More
During the past five years my artwork has explored the inter-relationship between art and medical science. This series of artworks has questioned how science gets performed on the body and how the languages of science operate. Utilizing new and old medical diagrams, laboratory equipment and medical reference books, I have focused on the ways that medical science is a discourse which does not yield a final truth but has a widening cultural field of visibility. Whether tracing emotional and personal histories against the languages of medical objectivity, or suspending actual dictionary definitions of body parts, these works beckon us to reconsider the authority of medical texts and their orders of objective knowledge.

In the installation Suspending the Laws of Medical Practice, the language of sculpture is combined with the language of science. Individual vintage test tubes, pinned into the gallery wall with long dissecting pins, each contain strips of dictionary definitions. Suspended in water, these objects question assumptions about scientific observation and the authority of objective recording.

In a couple of cases, this wall installation was paired with a table piece that incorporated a large glasswork and an open dictionary. Peering through the large circular hole cut out of the medical dictionary, the viewer is allowed to see through the medical text and into the large water-filled glass vessel that serves as the underbelly/underworld to the authoritative “truths” located in the dictionary. In this space below, viewers are presented again with medical definitions not in their authoritative place, but rather as suspended, floating fragments of text. Here, the pieces of text or code operate as fragments of cultural meaning and are unmoored from their disciplinary context and sent adrift.

© Galerie de l'UQAM 2007. All rights reserved

Saskatchewan-born Cindy Stelmackowich now lives in Ottawa. She holds a bachelor's degree in fine art from the University of Saskatchewan, as well as a master's degree in art from Carleton University in Ottawa. She is currently pursuing a doctorate in art history and theory at the State University of New York in Binghamton. The artist is also a curator and art critic, in addition to being a lecturer at the University of Ottawa and Carleton University.

selected exhibitions
2004 Between Art and Medical Science, The Estevan Art Gallery and Museum, Estevan (Saskatchewan)
Medical Imprints, Ottawa Art Gallery, Ottawa (Ontario) [Renee Baert, curator] 2002 Dissected, Artspace, Peterborough (Ontario)  Out From Under, Galerie d'art de l'Université de Moncton, Moncton (New Brunswick) [Petra Halkes, curator] 2000 Liminal States, Binghamton University Art Gallery, Binghamton (United States)
Saskatchewan-born Cindy Stelmackowich now lives in Ottawa. She holds a bachelor's degree in fine art from the University of Saskatchewan, as well as a master's degree in art from Carleton University in Ottawa. She is currently pursuing a doctorate in art history and theory at the State University of New York in Binghamton. The artist is also a curator and art critic, in addition to being a lecturer at the University of Ottawa and Carleton University.

selected exhibitions
  • 2004 Between Art and Medical Science, The Estevan Art Gallery and Museum, Estevan (Saskatchewan)
  • Medical Imprints, Ottawa Art Gallery, Ottawa (Ontario) [Renee Baert, curator]
  • 2002 Dissected, Artspace, Peterborough (Ontario) 
  • Out From Under, Galerie d'art de l'Université de Moncton, Moncton (New Brunswick) [Petra Halkes, curator]
  • 2000 Liminal States, Binghamton University Art Gallery, Binghamton (United States)

© Galerie de l'UQAM 2007. All rights reserved

Learning Objectives

The learner will:
  • demonstrate an understanding of how science and art can be linked;
  • try to explain the state of mind of the artist when she made this art piece.

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