Feb 17 – Mar 18 2017
von Bartha, S-chanf
For the upcoming solo exhibition at von Bartha S-chanf, Switzerland, Superflex presents Hospital Equipment. The work consists of an installation displaying an operation theatre – and a photograph of the operation theatre exhibited in the gallery. Setting the scene of a life and death situation inside the gallery space, the viewer is positioned as a voyeur to a fatal conflict of war and loss.
When the exhibition ends, the hospital equipment will be shipped directly to the Salamieh Hospital in Syria to be used by doctors and patients, and the photograph will remain with the collector.
The work questions not only our divergent reaction to the heavy stream of media and humanitarian fundraising campaigns involving the Syrian conflict, it also challenges the concept of contemporary art practice, collections and ownership.
Superflex refers to the work as a ‘readymade upside down’. Transitioning from a Duchampian ‘readymade’ to a potentially lifesaving medical instrument, the equipment oscillates between artwork and functional object, highlighting the role of context in the definition of artistic practice – and the will of the individual mind to make direct change in the world we are living. The equipment consists of a state-of-the-art surgeon’s table, a mobile surgery lamp and a surgical instrument table, that has been carefully selected for the Salamieh hospital.
Hospital Equipment is an act of exchange.
Working closely with The Salamieh Hospital, Syria, to identify what is needed, Superflex have sourced necessary surgical tools – a mobile lamp, a surgeon‘s table and a surgical bearing – which are exhibited within the gallery space. Following the exhibition, the tools – conceived as a single artwork – will be shipped directly to the hospital where they become a functional part of the centre, used by staff and patients.
Mirroring the fatal consequences of the Syrian conflict, Hospital Equipment presents the viewer with a similarly mortal situation – a life or death operation. By positioning the viewer as voyeur, Superflex call into question our relationships towards seemingly remote world crises. We are constantly being confronted with a heavy stream of images of war and conflict through news, social media, and humanitarian fundraising campaigns but to what extent does this endless repetition affect the receiver?”
Described by Superflex as “an act of exchange”, the work further challenges notions around object-based art collections and ownership. Once removed from the exhibition, the installation exists for the ‘owner’ as photographic documentation, rather than a physical object. The work sustains an ambiguous identity across different – often divided – worlds, whilst the process engenders a philanthropic approach to collecting.