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backXenograftie (Artificial Sorrow)

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…she stayed anxiously beside the door and started to weep…(*)

After failed attempts on rabbits, on the 3rd November 1879 Gerhard Armauer Hansen, poised along a knives edge, relocated leprosy bacterium to the eye of a protesting female. The contamination caused an ocular leprosy node to develop. With respect and sorrow, on the same site of Bergen’s Lepramuseet, the artist introduces a foreign body into her eyes—artificial tears. The intrusion bites the membranes and stirs authentic drops, the hand reaches out…

Xenograftie (artificial sorrow) investigates the animot—Derrida’s cultural alignment between the animal and the female. The audience witness an act of memorialization: the fur of a slaughtered rabbit and the hair from the artist gradually cling to the body of the other, translating the languages into which they are written.

This performance forms the core of the paper “To Provoke Tears: performing histories of induced weeping” presented at Tears in Performance conference at the Institut National d’Histoire de l’Art for Université Paris-Sorbonne, march 2014 and TaPRA annual conference, Royal Holloway University, London, September 2014.

(*)“A serious sentence passed against the discoverer of the leprosy bacillus (Gerhard Armauer Hansen), in 1880.”| Vogelsang, T.M. “Medical History.” Cambridge Journals. 7, 2, (1963): 184.

Dead rabbit, artificial tears, salt, tins, pearl-headed pins, human hair
Exhibition Lepramuseet and St George’s Hospital, Bergen, NO (2013)
Photo credit Bjarte Bjørkum and Marco Teschke