Air Heads

Borland, Christine (2009) Air Heads. [Show/Exhibition]

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Borland's practice often uncovers the ways in which 'institutions exploit and devalue life'. For this new piece, commissioned for the exhibition, Borland has used Norwich Castle's collection of phrenology and death heads as her inspiration. Phrenology was a pseudoscience prominent during the early nineteenth century and was based upon the belief that mental characteristics could be determined by measuring the physical characteristics of the skull. The phrenology collection at Norwich Castle began as an attempt to test the theory to see whether all criminals were prone to illegal activity due to the shape of their skulls. Largely discredited by the 1830s it later became a source of fairground entertainment. Borland was drawn to the death heads of two local women, Frances Billings and Catherine Frarey, who were executed at Norwich Castle following conviction for poisoning and murder. Borland uses resuscitation dummies, the most famous of which, Resusci Annie, has the face of an alleged suicide victim found in the River Seine at the turn of the twentieth century.

The history of medicine and how it has influenced the way we see and understand the body, are central concerns of Christine Borland's work. In the mid 1990s Borland discovered it was possible to purchase human skeletons via mail order. Equally fascinated and horrified, Borland began to make works that imagined the lost identities of those whose skeletons had become a commodity to be purchased for use in medical education.

Item Type: Show/Exhibition
Subjects: A100 Pre-clinical Medicine
B100 Anatomy, Physiology and Pathology
W100 Fine Art
Department: Faculties > Arts, Design and Social Sciences > Arts
Depositing User: Helen Pattison
Date Deposited: 01 May 2012 19:00
Last Modified: 24 Oct 2017 08:11

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