Desiccation, suspension, extraction: The inhuman art of Christine Borland

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

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Scottish artist Christine Borland (1965–) has reached international attention for her impressive sculptural work across collections, ethics and research processes. This chapter will consider her botanical works in parallel to her more familiar anatomical works, in mutual interaction and interdependence. By doing so, various post-human literatures will be invoked (a currently burgeoning network of scholarly and creative writing) to widen our appreciation of the particular speculations that Borland offers around the botanical as central to modern experience. A number of artworks offer starting points. In early works Apples with Holes (1991) and The Velocity of Drops (1993) apples and water melons stand in as human body parts, as recipients of unlocated violence. In Spirit Collection: Hippocrates (1999) plane tree leaves act metonymically for the spread of medical knowledge. Later plant works include Black, White and Shades of Grey (2006). She fuses botany and the human particularly through the idea of the herbarium and other botanical storage sites, for example, Conservatory (2004) a piece largely constituted by engraved and fragmented porcelain skeleton, Ecbolic Garden (2001), To be Set and Sown in the Garden (2002), The History of Plants, According to Women, Children and Students (2002) and Medicine Cabinet (Desiccated) (2006). All draw on traditional strategies of display. Other-than-human animals featured in Girl Grasping Eel (1997), Bison-Bison (1997), and Bullet Proof Breath (2001) the latter of which was partially made from spider silk. Patrizio will use motifs of assemblage, fragmentation and ethical borderlines, that evoke the interstices of the cellular, botanical, geological and anatomical.

Book Abstract: Edited book on anatomy based on Montpelier Anatomy Museum, France. This book examines how scientific objects in collections act as inspiration to contemporary art practice, its histories, curating and aesthetics. Through a series of cross-disciplinary essays written by leading arts professionals, this volume will explore how scientific encounters in museums provoke new modes of creative thinking about art, science and curating. Editors Dr Ed Juler and Dr Alistair Robinson, Newcastle University. Publisher (Intellect Books, London) is confirmed.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPost-Specimen Encounters between Art, Science and Curating
Subtitle of host publicationRethinking Art Practice and Objecthood through Scientific Collections
EditorsEdward Juler, Alistair Robinson
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherIntellect Books
Number of pages26
ISBN (Print)9781789383119
Publication statusPublished - 12 Jan 2021


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