‘…is the human body a soul-less, self-less object at the mercy of automatic internal processes…or is it a precious vessel containing a unique individual…?’
Sian Ede Art & Science. London and New York: Taurus Books, 2010. p.145
Bloodlines was the first practice-as-research output of Chimera and explored creative, collaborative and compositional strategies of science-engaged interdisciplinary performance.
The performance follows a young man diagnosed with a deadly disease, in order to explore the different ways in which the body is experienced, understood and represented in medical domains, in the arts and for a range of audiences. Experiences of cancer and of the aggressive treatment it demands provoke profound shifts in the patient’s sense of embodiment: the familiar body becomes a hostile environment, cancer turns its life-giving microscopic processes into deadly one, the pain and fatigue of treatment change our relationship to the world, and facing mortality alerts us to our ‘mortal coil’. At the same time, our body is reflected back to us through medical discourse and images that are unsettling and unfamiliar.
The project was inspired by its makers’ personal experience of Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (which the composer, Milton Mermikides developed in 2004) and its treatment through intensive chemotherapy, radiotherapy and a bone marrow transplant (donated by his sister Alex Mermikides, the director) performance).
Project collaborators include Ann Van de Velde, a clinical haematologist involved in the care and treatment of blood disorders such as Leukaemia, and Anna Tanczos, a digital artist specialising in science communication.
Ann Van de Velde (Haematology, Antwerp University Hospital). Ann is a clinical haematologist specialising in the care and treatment of blood cancers, often through bone marrow transplant. She has special responsibility for bone marrow donors. She is also founder of BIOMAB an international organisation engaged with medical art practice. Ann is participating in the Bloodlines project.
Anna Tanczos (Sci-Comms Studios). Anna is a digital artist specialising in science communication (she has a PhD in Chemistry) and public engagement. She is creating a videoscape for the Bloodlines performance.
Bex Law, Dramaturg and performer. Bex is a theatre artist with medical training and experience.
Adam Kirkham (choreographer/dancer). Adam is a dancer/choreographer with previous experience of working on interdisciplinary medical-science engaged project.
Andrew Nasrat (Drama and Dance, Kingston University). Andrew is a lighting and sound designer specialising in contemporary theatre technologies. His role on the Bloodlines project encompasses technical and production management and lighting design.
Caroline Lofthouse (Dance, Kingston University). Dance lecturer and professional dancer, Caroline is choreographing and performing in sections of the show – which we get to include when playing in a big enough venue.
Viv Rocha (dancer). Viv dances the role of ‘the donor’. A graduate of Kingston University dance degree, she founded her own company, What is Written.