In her double capacity as an artist and nuclear doctor, Thalia Gatzouli focuses on the artistic rendering of scientific facts concerning the human body. Her studies and research on the structure and function of cells; on the different types of the biological traces of human existence; as well as on vision and visual reflexes have inspired artworks that generate new image resources and interpretative tools.
Her latest work focuses on a phenomenon that, only a few decades ago, belonged almost entirely to the realm of imagination: cryonics. Cryonics refers to the still experimental technologies that allow the freezing of human corpses. Freezing in very low temperatures, assisted by special equipment that supports the body’s vital functions, keeps the body at a state of biological standstill, assuming that future medicine will be able to restore the damages caused by the loss of life.
In the artist’s own words, “in our era, the new conditions created by revolutionary developments in biotechnology dramatically change the reality that concerned human life until now. The limits and restrictions of organic chemistry are overcome, opening up new paths, thanks to genetic engineering, regenerative medicine, and nanotechnology. This will lead to the successful treatment of diseases that are now considered incurable; to new potentials of delaying the decaying and aging of cells, thereby delaying death, and making the myths of Prometheus, Faust, and Frankenstein less imaginary. Technology and science already provide humans with the ability to intervene in time and keep part of the human body (or perhaps all of it in the future?) in deep freezing, in the hope it can rejoin the living when they “judge” (?) that the conditions are favorable. The human body member remains under technological support, separated from time and society, in a stand-by state, in an intermediate space, decisively dependent upon the functioning conditions of inorganic factors (temperature, pressure, endurance, available energy). The shaman, the witchdoctor, the physician are replaced by the life-support machine. The concepts of life and time change, and the human turns into a non-mortal through waiting”.
Gatzouli’s work turns our attention to the grey area of technological and medical innovations, where important moral, philosophical, but also cultural, social and economic issues are raised; where the vital biological functions of the body are suspended and where, at the same time, the precise distinction between the states of life and death, between soul and body, become blurred. The artist’s approach highlights the importance of taking a critical stance towards major technological breakthroughs, and the intersection between art and medicine.
MOMus-Museum of Contemporary Art-Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art and State Museum of Contemporary Art Collections