Portraits by Susan Aldworth currently on display at the National Portrait Gallery in London depict three individuals with epilepsy. Produced as part of a commission for Guy’s and St. Thomas’s Hospital in Westminster, the exhibition will run until 1 September 2013.
Expanding a notion of contemporary portraiture, the artist appropriates the illustrative vocabulary of medical science in her printmaking process and in doing so asks how this material corresponds or contrasts with the subject’s sense of self.
The portraits explore both the neuroscience and individual experience of epilepsy and have been developed through drawings, photographs and interviews. These are incorporated with brain scans, each showing the brain anatomy of an individual to capture both the internal and external person. The artist’s particular interest in the relationship of The Self to the physical brain came after she collapsed with a suspected brain aneurysm and found herself in an operating theatre watching the inside of her brain on a monitor.
To coincide with the exhibition, video and audio material has been made available online, including a short film looking at the genesis of the project and audio interviews: Max Eilenberg’s initial reaction on seeing his portrait, a discussion between neuroscientist Dr. Fiona le Beau and Susan Aldworth about electricity and epilepsy, and the artist talking to assistant curator Inga Fraser about the display.
For more information please visit: http://www.npg.org.uk/whatson/display/2013/susan-aldworth-the-portrait-anatomised.php