Pain (working title)


Pain is a new moving image project scrutinising historical depictions and contemporary understandings of women’s pain, examining how medical practices are informed by (and inform) cultural and social norms, behaviours and assumptions. I am preoccupied by what is considered an ‘acceptable’ body and behaviour.


I am engaging with the displacement, erasure and (mis)treatment of women's bodies in medicine across the intersections of patient, doctor, and health workers. To do so, I am examining archival material, medical spaces and practices, depictions of medicine in the media and popular culture, and engaging in conversations with women.


This body of research stems from my most recent film, Body of Water, informed and inspired by the multitude of impassioned responses I received since exhibiting it.


The objective of this new work is to interrogate the construction of medical knowledges and practices with the intention to rewrite histories of women’s (ill)health by harnessing testimony and storytelling as a method to do so.



Image: diagram of a pelvic examination from Our Bodies, Ourselves, 1979

info
×

Research


My research is situated in the following themes: representation of women as unreliable narrators and inaccurate witnesses; embodiment of historical, political and cultural narratives in spaces and on bodies; objectification of women's’ bodies in medical institutions.


I look to harness the representation of the ‘misbehaving’ body as an unreliable narrator and inaccurate witness, bringing this subjectivity into dialogue with the dominance of objectivity in medical discourse and diagnostic narratives. I want to mobilise contradiction and nuance, first-hand experience and testimony as tools to resist essentialization and intervene into objectivity. I want to create space for womens' voices, bringing to the fore a multitude of unseen narratives and bodies.


Research for the work is happening in parallel: ongoing informal conversations with women to gather testimony, stories, and shared references and experiences; delving into the back catalogue of medical journals and physicians notebooks held at the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons Glasgow; and (slightly obsessively) consuming reruns of TV medical dramas.


This material will come together to form the body of the film, visually and audibly. Utilising techniques and tropes of documentary to look back at past failures and problematise contemporary practices and depictions, the work will engage with a multitude of representations, manipulations and incarnations of women as unreliable witnesses of their own bodies and experiences. 

Image: Christina Yang in TV medical drama Grey's Anatomy

info
×

Intended outcome


The intended outcome of this research will be a new moving image work that draws together women’s voices with a variety of imagery, materials and spaces that embody the prevailing presumption of the neutral ‘healthy’ body as white, straight and male.


The work will offer up ethical and political (and undoubtedly contradictory) interpretations of women’s bodies as ‘out of place’ in medicine, and in doing so question whose voice gets to speak, and whose words are heard, as part of the unpicking of this web of stories and histories, ethics and practices.


This layered approach will be throughout the film, both visually and audibly. I want to be playful with when sound, voice and visual material align, allowing for both sequential and non-linear timelines to form as the themes and questions build and recur. The intention is to produce a moving image work that does not provide straightforward conclusions, avoiding the reinforcement of a binary that places medicine as a homogeneous entity as ‘bad’ and patients as collective ‘victims’, but an attempt to depict the more complex and nuanced nature of the network of medicine, policy and politics in which people and bodies exist and function.

Image: archive medical text on display at the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons, Glasgow

info
×

How to get involved


If the themes of this research and work resonate with you, please get in touch. I look forward to hearing from you.


You can contact me via email: annie.crabtree@gmail.com

Development of this project is supported by:


12–26 August 2019: Experimental Film and Artists Moving Image Residency, Cove Park


7 November 2019: Tell me, how do I feel? Screening of works from the LUX and Cinenova collections, Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons Glasgow

Using Format