Video Installation | Participatory Video Performance | Video (01:09:59)
Sculptures/Simulations of the medical object
© Maria Paschalidou 2009
Narratives On A Gynaecological Exam Table is a participatory video performance in which twenty-one participants were invited to narrate a personal story whilst sitting on a gynaecological exam table. Belonging in early 20th-century, this particular medical object came to my possession through a private auction in Chicago in 2004. In any case, at the time my research was focused on subjects that were associated with body surveillance and particularly with medical image/monitoring and examination (Bodies Under Investigation, Maria Paschalidou, MFA, Photography, 2003).
The recordings of the stories began in Chicago in 2005 and were completed in Athens in 2008. For the video recording, the participants decided on the subject of their story, on their garments (whether they are naked or dressed) and directly controlled the beginning, pause or/and end of their narrative by using a video remote control. Their stories deal with various subjects that have not necessarily anything to do with the medical quality of the table. In total, 21 narratives were recorded from fifteen women and six men of different ages (25-75 years old), different nationalities and professional activities. All participants remain anonymous.
The final installation consists of three video projections (“The Stories”, “Human Traffic”, and “The Table”), the gynaecological exam table and three wooden constructions, simulations of the original medical object. In the exhibition space, viewers are encouraged to lie down on these ‘sculptures’ and watch the video with the twenty-one stories.
Narratives On A Gynaecological Exam Table is a video installation using the device of shared personal stories to engage questions of intimacy and control. In the installation, the medical table becomes an intimate prop for staging acts of narrating. Its solidity is interrupted by the fluidity of the participants’ experiences, storytelling and acts of mimesis.
After a twelve-year disruption from its initial purpose, the gynaecological exam table acquired back its medical identity. The American manufacturing exam table of 1930s after my concession as of the 27th of July 2015, is located at the Museum “Sotiria” (General Hospital of Thorax Diseases, Athens, Greece).
I would like to express my deepest thanks to those who anonymously participated in the project with their personal stories; those who shared their thoughts through written texts published along with the stories in the book/catalogue (Ekkremes, Athens 2009): Maria Aggeli, Syrago Tsiara, George Sympardis and Kostis Stafylakis. Special thanks also to: Yanni Lolis for his exceptional care of the graphic design of the catalogue; the exhibition space “cheapart” and its founders for their hospitality and support; the sculptors Dimitris Georgakopoulos and Constantinos Papadoukas for their precious assistance and the director of the Museum “Sotiria”, Dr. Michael Toumbis. Last but not least, the artist/professor Dr. Mike Simmons who supported and made possible the communication of the project in UK through lectures and its recent publication at Bloomberg editions.
In memory of my beloved friend V.S. We will always remember her story.
EXHIBITIONS / PRESENTATIONS:
- Gallery cheapart. Athens, 10 February – 4 March 2009.
- “Art-Athina 2010”, International Contemporary Art Fair of Athens. Faliro Pavilion, 13-16 May 2010.
- Simmons, M. (2015) Making Photographs. London: Bloomsbury, pp.151-53.
- Paschalidou M. (2009) Narratives On A Gyn Exam Table. Athens: Ekkremes Editions
Book / Catalogue:
The book/catalogue refers to the stages and the critical ideas of the whole project. It contains the twenty-one stories of the participants, analytical description of the video installation and written essays/commentaries from: Maria Angeli (art theorist, curator, museum educator), Kostis Stafylakis (artist, art theorist), Giorgos Sympardis (author) and Syrago Tsiara (art historian, curator, director of Thessaloniki Center of Contemporary Art). The book has been published by Ekkremes editions in both Greek and English language (Athens, February 2009).
Book / Catalogue Essays:
Maria Angeli, “From a gynaecological table… Narration, Interpretation, Self-observation, creation”; Written narratives-commentaries at Paschalidou M. (2009) Narratives On A Gynaecological Exam Table. Athens: Ekkremes Editions, pp. 17-21
Kostis Stafylakis, “The scandal of analysis”; Written narratives-commentaries, at Paschalidou M. (2009) Narratives On A Gynaecological Exam Table. Athens: Ekkremes Editions, pp. 23-25
George Sympardis, “The chair”; Written narratives-commentaries at Paschalidou M. (2009) Narratives On A Gynaecological Exam Table. Athens: Ekkremes Editions, p. 27
Syrago Tsiara, “Some thoughts based on the work of Maria Paschalidou: Narratives (or short performances) on a Gynaecological Exam Table”; Written narratives-commentaries at Paschalidou M. (2009) Narratives On A Gynaecological Exam Table. Athens: Ekkremes Editions, p. 29