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Contemporary Artists’ Books and the Intimate Aesthetics of Illness

Bolaki, Stella (2019) Contemporary Artists’ Books and the Intimate Aesthetics of Illness. Journal of Medical Humanities, 41 (1). pp. 21-39. ISSN 1041-3545. (doi:10.1007/s10912-019-09596-4) (KAR id:78926)

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This essay brings together critical perspectives from the discrete traditions of artists’ books and the medical humanities to examine artists’ books by three contemporary artists – Penny Alexander, Martha A. Hall and Amanda Watson-Will – that treat experiences of illness and wellbeing. Through its focus on a multimodal and multisensory art form that has allegiances with, but is not reduced to, narrative, the essay adds to recent calls to rethink key assumptions of illness narrative study and to challenge utilitarian approaches. In particular, it draws attention to the aesthetic and imaginative elements of illness communication by exploring how artists’ books represent lived experiences in a distinctively palpable way and offer an “intimate authority” that extends beyond narrative legitimacy or a form of struggle against the medical gaze. By interrogating narrative’s dominance in medical humanities research, the essay further expands awareness of illness experiences that resist conventional forms of representation (such as chronic illness), and of alternative reflective practices within healthcare education that encourage engagement with both mind and body.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1007/s10912-019-09596-4
Uncontrolled keywords: illness narrative, artist’s book, intimate authority, temporality of illness, mindfulness
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PR English literature
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of English
Depositing User: Stella Bolaki
Date Deposited: 21 Nov 2019 12:42 UTC
Last Modified: 15 Sep 2020 10:33 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Bolaki, Stella:
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