Tartu

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Residency
1999

Shocked. When you are shocked you are in a frozen state, unable to respond or to move on.

Rationally I have no problems with bodies being cut up or cut open after death. However seeing it for real, I found myself abandoning the abstract generalisation of the body . Faced with a cut body, his body, her body, I am immobilised by the intense intimacy of surface detail. Unable to respond or move on.

It is not used now, but the circular room for demonstrating dissections was a real theatre. So well lit that you could see with great clarity. Everybody on the benches must have been within a metre of the central table and positioned so that they could look down and into the corpse as it was opened.

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I spent a couple of days sitting on one of the benches looking down at the empty table. I watched some of the other artists deal with confronting this taboo in their different ways. I wondered if new students of anatomy were as disorientated as we had been.

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Feeling a little ridiculous (as someone of a different age, culture, discipline) I started to take notes as if I was attending a lecture. I wrote a speech for my voice and one for my body. Katrin translated the words into Estonian. With difficulty and much help (both the difficulty and the help seemed vital to the work) I learned my own text.

Aga (but)
kõht (the belly)
Ei, tema kõht (No, his belly)
iga vïkseimgi detail nahal (every tiny detail of the skin)
see esimene lõige (that first cut)
skalpelli sihikindel liikumine (the exact way the scalpel pushes down)
kõhul (on the belly)
tema kõhul (on his belly)
tungides sellest läbi (it pierces it)
sìledale kohule (smooth belly)
ja sisikond tuleb välja (and the guts come out)
voolab välja (tumbling out)
nii särav (so glossy)
nii uskumatult särav. (so incredibly glossy.)
Ma arvasin et see on. (I thought it would be.)
see on.. (It is..)
tukslev aga särav (tumbling but glossy)
Ja erinev roti lahkamisest (And different from cutting open a rat)
nii rabavalt erinev. (so shockingly different.)
Kuidas saan ma sinna ruumi tagasi minna? (How can I go back into the room?)
Tesed jälgisid proffessorit, kui nad nägid mind lahkumas (Everyone was looking at the professor but they all saw me leave.)
Nad kõik (Everyone) See esimene sälk phemes lihas.. (That first nick of soft flesh..)
minu pehmes kõhus. (my soft belly.)
Skalpell selle vastas (The scalpel against it)
See esimene lõigee (This first cut)
see kõige esimene (the very first)
Valgudes välja - nii säravana (tumbling out, all shiny) Siledale - siledale kohule (on the smooth, smooth belly)
tema kõht avanemas, ta sisikond võbelemas (His belly opening, his guts tumbling)
nuud (now)
siit see tuleb, särades (here they come shining)
nii erinev neist värvilistest kipselunditest, mida me tundma oppisime (nothing like the coloured plaster organs we studdied)
ei midagi sellesarnast (nothing like them)
nii erinev (nothing like this)
Proffessor nägi mind lahkumas (The Professor saw me leave)
kõik nägid mind ruumist lahkumas (Everyone saw me leave the room)
Midas ma kull tagisi lähen? (How can I go back in?)