The Swallowing Plates
Objects Swallowed and Recovered From the Human Body
by Lisa Wood
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About the Book
Original works of art inspired by Chevalier Jackson (1865-1958), one of the leading laryngologists of the Victorian era, Lisa Wood constructs fictionalized case studies based on his pioneering work recovering objects from his patients’ gullets and windpipes. Intrigued by the good doctor’s collection of Foreign Bodies Removed from the Food and Air Passages, on display at The Mutter Museum in Philadelphia, the San Francisco–based artist has assembled an array of nineteenth century “potential” obstructions and original era tintype photographs to bring these worst-case scenarios of ingestion to life. The canvases for these tableaux are ordinary household dinner plates, configured for wall hanging. The thirty-three assemblages evoke an era in which medical and mechanical technology were just beginning to make good on the promise of “miracle recoveries.” This original collection recounts in lovingly observed and imagined detail a Victorian world in which life was fraught with everyday perils—a world in which curious tales of personal triumph and tragedy were held up as moral maxims: a timely intervention, a lesson learned, a life saved, or as fate would often dictate, a grim demise.