Collage of black and white medical imagery and pop-art colored patterns.

Thursday April 13
5:30 CST / 6:30pm EST

Art and Exhibition Hall Screening Room
University of Illinois at Chicago
400 S. Peoria St. Room 3226

Infernal Grove Study Groups bring together artists and writers with lived experience of drug use who have a range of relationships to sobriety and its alternatives. We started the groups out of thirst for rigorous, emotionally dense discussion of drugs and drug use, where entry isn’t conditional on abstinence. The groups are founded on curiosity and care.

This session is built around Infernal Grove member Rachel Fein Smolinski’s in-progress artist book. Part memoir, part inquiry into from institutional and extra-institutional archives, Drawing from medical artifacts with historical baggage, notes-to-self, tableaux of the artist’s personal medicalized baggage, self-portraits and treatment ephemera. Mythologies of Pain is about recovery, chronic illness, pain, addiction and most importantly, pleasure.  

It includes clinical photographs of patients taken between 1900-1975, many of which have been seen only by medical practitioners prior to Smolinski’s access and re-contextualization for this project. Work with archivists to be granted permission to share images with redacted identifying information with a focus on photographs of patients made in the first 3/4 of the 20th century is integral in this project. I mine archives in tandem with sharing my direct experiences as a person with chronic illness. This is about what happens when a person becomes a patient, when vulnerability is exploited, how healthcare has been obfuscated by capital, and a speculation on what care looks like outside of the model of diagnosis, treatment and recovery.

Samples of the work are here