Izabela Zolcinska Personal Protection Equipment

health, identity, stigma

Haemophobia is the irrational fear of blood. Is an innate fear of this biological fluid warranted? And how does our own skin offer us protection from infection?

Personal Protection Equipment explores the phenomenon of fearing blood in our culture and its place in society. It also navigates the boundaries between liquidity, capillarity and the body. Inspiration for this artwork came from the biohazard suits used by medical professionals in Ebola virus infected areas and by the researchers who work with this virus in the lab. One of the greatest challenges for contemporary medicine, the Ebola virus was first discovered in Yambuku in Democratic Republic of the Congo, but it was named after a nearby river to avoid stigmatizing the village.

The embroidered red silk represents the network of blood vessels that lie beneath our own skin and the fragility between the inside and outside environments of the body. Alongside the artwork is a disinfectant dispenser, which further reminds us of our fear of infection through our own skin.

Sculpture; embroidered silk, 2016
Image: Courtesy of the artist

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The Artist: Izabela Zolcinska

Izabela Zolcinska is interested in sensory perception and extended corporeality, particularly relations between body and its protection like garment or architecture. Her interdisciplinary work explores cognitive science, technology, “corporeality”, anatomy, architecture and hydrology. Both capillarity and liquidity feature in her artworks including The Wall of Warmth, Biophilia, The Bodies of Rivers and Glomma.

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