Maureen Cummins, 2016. Hardcover. Number 34 of 40 copies. Signed the artist. In this powerful work, noted book artist Maureen Cummins investigates the dark side of the history of psychosurgery, as exemplified by the career of Doctor Walter Freeman (1895-1972), a professor of neurology who became known as the father of lobotomy by single-handedly popularizing the pre-frontal lobotomy in America. Although he had no formal training in either surgery or psychology, Freeman modified the traditional procedure for lobotomies by driving ice picks through his patients’ eye sockets rather than drilling into the skull to sever nerve connections in the prefrontal cortex to treat mental illness. Despite his championing of his procedure he admitted that lobotomies often created childlike behavior or a vegetative state in patients. Hundreds of patients died. The controversial procedure also raised numerous questions about patients’ rights, the abuse of institutional power, and the disproportionate targeting of women. Of the more than 3000 patients that Freeman operated on, two-thirds were women. Cummins uses physical rape as an analogy for neurological penetration, a form of sexualized violence that was perpetuated for decades in the name of medical progress. She visualizes this by a series of laser cut holes that bore through each page, becoming smaller page by page.The holes penetrate reproduced images of lobotomy patients’ heads and on the last page the title “The Rapist” becomes “Therapist?” The images of women are from 'before-and-after” photos used in Freeman’s textbook, which are re-contextualized, with lines of typography serving as blindfolds, reclaiming for these women a measure of dignity, humanity, and anonymity. The pages of the book are laser-cut aluminum with silkscreen-printed text and imagery. The covers are also laser-cut aluminum with a large hole that reveals the subsequent holes and "The" and "rapist" on either side of the cover's hole. The pages are attached to the cover by two ring binders. Housed in an aluminum box with a metal title label affixed to the top. In fine condition. 16 pages. 24” x 9” x 1” open 12” x 9” x 1 closed. ARTISTSB/100419. Fine.
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