CASEBOOKS: Six contemporary artists and an extraordinary medical archive
Jasmina Cibic, Federico Díaz, Lynn Hershman Leeson, Rémy Markowitsch, Lindsay Seers, Tunga
17 March – 23 April 2017, Ambika P3, University of Westminster, London
Private view: Thursday 16 March 6.30–8.30pm
Opening hours: Tues–Fri, 11am–7pm, Sat–Sun, 12pm–6pm. Closed Mondays.
Please note that the exhibition will also be closed on Good Friday and Easter Monday. The exhibition will be open as normal on Easter Saturday and Sunday.
Ambika P3 and the Casebooks Project at the University of Cambridge present CASEBOOKS, a major exhibition investigating one of the largest surviving sets of medical records in the world. International contemporary artists Jasmina Cibic, Federico Díaz, Lynn Hershman Leeson, Rémy Markowitsch, Lindsay Seers and Tunga present a diverse and radical range of responses to the manuscripts of seventeenth-century English astrologer-physicians Simon Forman and Richard Napier. The 64 leather-bound volumes contain thousands of consultations made over nearly forty years relating to general health, disease and other afflictions of mind and body, as well as questions about sex, romance and marriage, job prospects and political, economic and environmental matters.
Inspired by ideas of alchemy, astrology, power, prophecy, knowledge and the materiality and content of the archive, CASEBOOKS presents six new works spanning sculpture, video and audio installation, live performance, robotics and artificial intelligence. The artists worked closely with the University of Cambridge’s Casebooks Project, a ten-year long digitisation of the entire archive currently held at the Bodleian Library in Oxford.
CASEBOOKS aims to engage artists and audiences with questions of interpretation of the astrologer-physicians manuscripts within an ecology of contemporary media and practice. The artists have incorporated material from the casebooks where it provided meaning and as a sounding board for their art practice, engaging with different layers of the records and the encounters they document.
Jasmina Cibic’s new work, Unforseen Foreseens, is a site-specific 12m long corridor installation fusing sculpture and performance, and alluding to the relationships between astrology, power and architecture. Federic Díaz’s Big Light synthesizes robotic arms, liquids and materials programmed by algorithmically-generated data to explore complex connections in the vast compendium of all human knowledge. Lynn Hershman Leeson’s Real-Fiction Botnik has is a 3D holographic Artificial Intelligence bot with a brain shaped by seventeenth-century century astrological consultations, who is able to offer on-the-spot personal predictions. The Casebooks Calf by Rémy Markowitsch is a large-scale sculpture of a calf made of the same calfskin as the bindings of the casebooks, and from which emanate readings selected from the original seventeenth century consultations. Lindsay Seer's commission draws on contemporary and historical divination to reference holistic approaches to the body and mind in a roving orchestration of diagrams, symbols and images projected across two large satellite dishes. Me, You and the Moon is a recent work chosen for the exhibition by the late artist Tunga is a monolithic sculptural constellation of clay, rock and organic materials symbolising alchemy, astrology and the senses.
Performances times for Jasmina Cibic's Unforseen Forseens and Federico Díaz's Big Light are:
18, 19, 25, 26 March 2017
1, 2, 8, 9, 15, 16, 22, 23 April 2017
5 April 2017
CASEBOOKS is curated by Dr Michael Mazière and is a collaboration between Ambika P3, the artists and Dr Lauren Kassell, Director of the Casebooks Project and Dr Natalie Kaoukji, Research Fellow at the Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a series of talks and events that will take place during the exhibition.
CASEBOOKS is funded by a Wellcome Trust Provision for Public Engagement, produced in partnership with the University of Cambridge and Ambika P3, and supported by the Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford.