Hybrid Bodies, a multidisciplinary research and artistic creation project, brings together the domains of Arts, Ethics, Medicine and Social Sciences to investigate the complexities of heart transplantation.
Beyond its anatomical function, the heart represents immense personal significance and speaks to the age-old question at the core of human selfhood: “Who am I?” Advances in medical transplantation technologies raise urgent questions about bodily integrity, personal identity, and the relationship between recipients and their donors.
The aim of these projects is to further explore the complexity of organ transplantation in a novel way which makes it accessible to the public by providing context to discuss and explore these ideas. We hope the artworks will provide a tangible focus for future discussion.
PHASE II: DONOR FAMILIES
PHASE I: TRANSPLANT RECIPIENTS
This second phase of the Hybrid Bodies project focuses on the experience of donor families. The ongoing research project examines the complex and often problematic language and discourse of the 'gift of life', the mandate of anonymity between recipients and donor families, as well as the various reasons individuals choose to become organ donors.
Examining the relationships (or, at times, lack thereof) between donor families and recipients of organ transplants, the project creates work which unpacks the notions of giving, obligation, reciprocation, benevolence, and especially the complex issues surrounding the enforced anonymity of organ transplant donors.
Comprised of many collaborators involved in Hybrid Bodies Phase One, Hybrid Bodies Phase Two also welcomes new artists, researchers, theorists, medical professionals and scholars to the project.
Four internationally exhibiting artists, Alexa Wright (UK), Catherine Richards (Canada), Andrew Carnie (UK), and Ingrid Bachmann (Canada), have had access to an innovative research study exploring the process of incorporating a transplanted heart. This interdisciplinary study was conducted by a leading research team based at the University Health Network in Toronto. The team consists of Dr. Heather Ross, a cardiologist and Director of the Cardiac Transplant Program at the University Health Network (Toronto); Dr. Patricia McKeever, a health sociologist (U of T);
Dr. Susan Abbey, a transplant psychiatrist (University Health Network); Dr. Jennifer Poole, a health scientist (Ryerson University, Toronto); and Dr. Margrit Shildrick, a philosopher (Linkoping University, Sweden).
While significant research has been conducted in transplantation using the bio-medical model, few researchers have explicitly connected organ recipients’ experiences and cultural views about transplantation to the notion of embodiment. Hybrid Bodies focuses on the lived experiences of heart transplant recipients, translating their stories into medical and academic literature as well as into artworks.