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Tuesday 3 October 2023 Dublin: 13°C
# bleeding art
The artist who injected his wife with horse blood is in Dublin
The Science Gallery has a new exhibition but it’s not for the faint-hearted…

A FRENCH ARTIST who injected his wife with horse blood as part of a performance piece is just one of dozens showcasing their blood-related work at Trinity College’s Science Gallery in Dublin.

The exhibition ‘BLOOD: Not for the faint-hearted’, launched last night and combines the work of artists, surgeons, medics, feminists, designers, engineers, scholars and architects with some fascinating and sometimes slightly creepy results.

We were allowed to have a snoop around ahead of the launch and the performance, entitled ‘May the Horse Live in Me!’, certainly stood out. Benoît Mangin and his wife Marion Laval-Jeanet made a brave decision to test Marion’s immune system and make an animal’s blood compatible with hers.

Obviously not seeking to kill the French woman, the artist used scientific processes to remove the parts of horse blood that are not compatible with humans. Laval-Jeanet spent ten days ahead of the filmed performance bonding with the horse and then, in front of an audience, was injected with the blood. After being injected, she is then reintroduced to the horse and walks around on robotic horse legs.

The performance is shown in a short film projected as part of the artists’ exhibition in the Science Gallery, with vials of the woman’s blood also on show.

Michelle Hennessy / Michelle Hennessy / /

Perhaps the most fascinating part of the experiment is that, according to Mangin, his wife experienced a number of unusual changes in her body in the weeks that followed. He told that her sleep pattern was severely disrupted, sleeping for only two hours at a time – similar to the way a horse sleeps. He said she also observed that she felt “strong in herself, like a horse”.

She has been told now that, similar to a person who has been severely stung by bees, another mix or horse blood with her own – even in this secure manner – would be fatal, so she can never repeat the performance.

‘Black Market Pudding’

Another interesting exhibit involves a twist on traditional Irish black pudding. UK-based artist and vegan John O’Shea proposes a new business model for the blood sausage that is ethically conscious.

Blood is taken from a live pig through a routine veterinary procedure in a humane, safe way. O’Shea’s concept suggests that producers would be compensated for costs associated with maintaining the animals and the consumer would pay a premium market price for this particular black pudding, knowing that no animals had been harmed to make it.

The artist served some of this wonderfully ethical black pudding to people at the launch last night.

Open Window

Anyone who is around Dublin for the next two weeks can pop in to see the BLOOD exhibition but one of the piece of work in it actually extends this to a particular audience who would not otherwise be able to see it. The ‘OpenWindow’ robot, which looks like a tablet on wheels, will allow patients in the National Stem Cell Transplant Unit at St James’ Hospital in Dublin, to have a look around.

These patients have been diagnosed with blood disorders, such as leukaemia and are treated by receiving bone marrow transplants. During this process they are forced to stay in an isolation ward to protect them from infection.

This lasts up to six weeks, with limited access to friends and family and one of the people involved in the project, Denis Roche, told us patients can often become depressed during this time.

Michelle Hennessy / Michelle Hennessy / /

The project was initially set up to allow patients to get images from their families or from the outside world and project them onto their walls, to keep their spirits up.

Their whole journey through it, they’re physically treated and it’s done very well but people were still ending up in survivor groups twenty years later where it had obviously had such a huge impact on them psychologically – it’s very very scary.

The research has shown that this reduced levels of anxiety and depression among patients in isolation and this is the next step in the project’s lifespan, allowing patients to virtually move around and interact with things and people outside of their hospital room.

Read: Paralysed man walks again following groundbreaking surgery>

Read: Kickstarter is live for Irish projects so now you can support this teenage bounty hunter>

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