By Birgitte Christens
DISEASE: Crohn’s Disease
The artwork illustrates the affected intestines of the patient through shower tubes which we associate with private/intimate bathing habits. The shower tubes carry water in the same way that our intestines carry food and liquids through the body. The tubes close up if they get calcified or form knots.
The metallic intestines have been fitted with ceramic objects showing the stenosis the patient suffers from. The ceramic has red and yellow shared to show the inflammation of the intestines. The ceramic pieces are placed on a hanger, representing the body. We clean our body on the outside, just like we clean our clothes, to appear nice and healthy. Patients with Crohn’s Disease are ill on the inside, and our eyes cannot see it. The hanger is therefore placed in a stand with a transparent plastic bag over it, just like in a dry-cleaning shop, enabling the spectator to see the disease.
The empty bags represent healthy bodies; they don’t feel their intestines and these are therefore shown to be invisible. Some of the ceramic objects carry imprints of elegant lingerie as a contrast to the symptoms of Crohn’s, which include uncontrollable bowel movements and foul smells that we try to hide or avoid. It’s a complex challenge that patients with Crohn’s Disease face every day.
The role of the patient was to convey what it is like to live with Crohn’s Disease, a chronic and invisible condition. By describing her life story and her view of life, she has enabled the artist, Birgitte, to create an artwork.
‘Perspectives – Art, Inflammation and Me’ is an initiative that brings together more than 200 artists with patients in more than 40 countries. Together, they have created a series of paintings, sculptures, photos and other artistic expressions that vividly depict — and help others understand — the impact of immune-mediated inflammatory diseases (IMIDs). Inspired by patients’ stories, independent artists and students from a number of art universities created each piece to help more people better understand the burdens associated with some of these chronic and debilitating conditions. In addition to independent artists from all parts of the world, students from more than 15 universities coordinated by the Polytechnic University of Valencia (Universitat Politecnica de Valencia) were able to add their “Perspectives.”
Select a thumbnail to see an International image and story.
More than 100 unique artistic expressions from ‘Perspectives – Art, Inflammation and Me’ debuted at the 9th Congress of the European Crohn’s and Colitis Organisation (ECCO) in Copenhagen, Denmark February 20, 2014, generously supported by AbbVie.