Reassembling the Self 1 and 2 by Susan Aldworth are currently on display at the GV Art gallery’s newest group exhibition Polymath. The show, like the gallery, features artists that ”create synergies and connect disparate ideas and different schools of thoughts”.
About her work:
Susan Aldworth’s Reassembling the Self 1 and 2 are lithographs from a new series of work, born from her residency at the Institute of Neuroscience at Newcastle University, and based on her collaborations with schizophrenia patients and the scientists researching it. The works consist of a collage of medical images – drawings, diagrams, scans – of human body parts, including organs, skeletons, tissue, crania – distributed disjointedly over the picture surface. It gives a sense of the discombobulation produced by this most anguishing of mental illnesses. The cranium visible in lithograph 1 is divided up diagrammatically and numbered, according to the phrenological ‘discipline’ of attributing certain regions of the brain to specific human characteristics. It is a suggestive illustration, identifying how one (now completed discredited) branch of medicine produced a specific series of narratives entangling quack scientific evidence and human identity. In its time, the pioneers and followers of phrenology believed that their knowledge could neatly classify the physical brain and thus explain the self. If any disease disproves this simplistic categorisation, it is schizophrenia, about which so many public misconceptions (and much stigma) still exists.