American Apartheid: Tracing the Art, Science and Ethics of Medical Racism (2/7)

"American Apartheid: Tracing the Art, Science and Ethics of Medical Racism"
a talk by Harriet Washington

Thursday, February 7th, 4:30-6 pm

Ferguson Auditorium
600 S. Michigan Ave.
Columbia College Chicago

For several hundred years, U.S. bias against black Americans in the medical sphere has reflected the political, social and economic realities of the larger culture. In addition, medical beliefs have both reflected and been fed by artistic trends, mores and practices and have been reinforced by literary movements and semantic strategies. This talk will trace some of these and indicate
how this history affects today's medical-research practices.

Ms. Washington is a Visiting Scholar at DePaul University, medical ethicist, and author of Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present.

The talk is a Critical Encounters: Poverty and Privilege event and is co-sponsored by the Liberal Education Department.

The event is preceded by a brief, light food reception beginning at 4 PM.

Also, a complete list of the spring series can be found online at

"Warsong" and "Marked" at the IMSS (Feb.1 - April 18)

Iliad Cenotaphs,” an exhibition of sculptures by Jonathan Gabel, and “Marked,” a mixed-media installation by Joseph Kohnke, as part of its ongoing “Anatomy in the Gallery” contemporary art program at the IMSS

opening on February 1, 2008, with a free, public reception for the artists from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m.,and remaining on view through April 18, 2008.

Museum of Surgical Sciences
1524 N. Lake Shore Dr. Chicago, IL 60610 USA
fax 312.642.9516

“Warsong: Iliad Cenotaphs” comprises painted wood sculptures representing the negative space of fatal wounds suffered by warriors in Homer’s Iliad. Throughout the ancient Greek epic poem, more than 250 warriors are introduced by name only to be slaughtered on the battleground, the description of their injuries so precise that Gabel has been able to create detailed anatomical models of the flesh displaced by spears and arrows. He says, “Through the cartography of the body, the medical view of the world illuminates not only the physical properties of life, but also the intangible value of it.”

In sculpting what is literally lost during these soldiers’ deaths, Gabel asks viewers to consider what else war takes from humanity. According to the artist, “against the horror and literal disembodiment that is modern warfare, these ancient warriors offers an almost eerily serene entry-point for the contemplation of life and its violent cessation.” Gabel currently resides in Brooklyn, New York, and received his MFA from Rutgers University. For further details about Gabel and his art, please visit

“Marked” consists of a faux medical device that continuously scans a conveyer belt of skin images from which Kohnke has excised every marking. Upon registering a void in the stream of images, the pneumatic mechanism triggers a light on one of two bodies, representing the marking’s original location. The pair of bodies that Kohnke employs—a human form and that of a fawn—illustrates the contrasting functions of external markings, which can signal a life-threatening illness in the one and serve as life-preserving camouflage in the other. “In nature, markings and spots on the body’s surface are used to increase the chances of survival, whereas on humans they are looked upon as flaws or the markings of death,” Kohnke says.

Inspired by a good friend’s death from melanoma, “Marked” reflects Kohnke’s meditation on the fragility of all life, whose fate can be determined by a seemingly insignificant mark. He says, “The idea that something so small and overlooked on the skin can consume your entire body both frightens and intrigues me.” A former resident of Evanston and MFA graduate of the Art and Technology program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Kohnke recently relocated to Pasadena, California. More information about Kohnke and his work is available at