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More Yoko No 6 - Engaging with the Medical Model / 26 July 2012

Bronze shoes with red paint on them exhibited before the Vertical memory Photographs

Shoes Before the Vertical Memory Images. Photo by Jerry Hardman-Jones

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The room has four walls. One leading outside is full of windows. No art stands there. The other three walls hold a collection of photos in horizontal line. Each of the photos are the same as the one before. It is a blurred photo. Probably a portrait of a man who wears glasses. It is hard to tell. The piece is called Vertical Memory and is dated 1997. But you said it's a horizontal line and its called vertical. Why is that?

Each photo represents an event in life. In life we grow tall - well, some of us do. We grow upwards. The movement is vertical. We stand against a wall and have our inches marked off for us as children. Yoko is marking off something else entirely. As she grows she grows in line with medical and caring interventions. It is these that are marked out horizontally as she herself grows towards the sky.

There are three main characters. Care attendants, Priests and Doctors. Don't be surprised to find holy men conspiring with your death within the medical model. Who else will administer those last rites.

Yoko didn't like the care attendant, Shosi, who held her hand on the walk to school. She found his attendance an embarrassment. Her preference was for freedom. Later, in wartime, in penury, malnourished, feeling faint and next to fever a doctor tells her to close her eyes. He bends over her. She feels uncomfortable. The medic kisses her. These are portents for the medical model. Confinement, threats, abuse. Then there begins a list of removals. Appendix, tonsils, wisdom teeth. The list that is taken never seems to meet with gifts that are given back. A psychiatrist enters the room. Yoko has a real problem. She is not dating. She should be dating. Her value is found in matrimony. I am guessing there is a cultural imperative here. Dating is normal. Not dating is time to call the doctor.

More is taken. Yoko's tale is told in part by failure to deliver a child too. She miscarries, she has abortions. Is it Life With The Lions or The Wedding Album that records a foetus heartbeat prior to another miscarriage. Do you hear the heartbeat playing in the gallery, or the hawk, are you praying for or circling over Syria and all the children dying there today, the mothers who will not deliver, the partners who will not share fruit. Yoko records the birth of a son and daughter.

Interestingly 4 artists appear. They do not differ at all from those engaged in the model under discussion here. Are they working within the professions or is it their values that are the same. Is it about unkindness, cruelty, invasion, removal, disrespect. I must return one day to read the words applied here.

Towards the end Yoko refuses to take a last confession from a priest and whilst a doctor might close her eyes at the end as in the beginning Yoko protests you cannot take my mind and of cause remembers all the beds she laid in during this horizontal record railing at the last; "What percentage of my life did I take it lying down?"

And of cause this blog should end there with dissatisfaction and protest but I remain male and must have the last word. It always struck me as somewhat fallacious that the social model would be railed against by feminists on the grounds that it was constructed by men. I never understood the criticism that the social model failed to encompass pain. It was my feeling that the model could cover all and speak of everything. I have tested this model on the grounds of race and believe that it could and should apply to age. It will guide me the more steps I take into that sphere. I never thought to test gender against the other models. But Yoko has taken me there as a woman speaking to a man.

In front of the windows 5 exhibits: A Family Album demarcated by High Heel Shoes, A Letter and Envelop, A Coathanger, Thread and Needle and A Mind Box. Bronze sculptures covered in blood (well red paint). It strikes me now that these pieces belong with the memory. The coathanger is bent out of shape to act as forceps or abortion machinery.

What was in the letter who was it from? How much did she bleed after the event? How would the needle and thread be used and what was in the mind box that it should bleed so profusely now?

I want to open it. They won't let me. I find myself before it considering my own anger and my own sense of loss. I find myself more moved today, all these weeks after the event, by the composition within the four walls but I was more moved by the box on the day than i can imagine now. Its funny that.


Keywords: medical model,mental health,yoko ono