CURATOR Aaron Lister
The Physician is a specialist in ‘art-related anxieties’, such as Acute Indifference Disorder, Metaphobia, and Mild Conceptual Perturbation. He undertook a residency at City Gallery, working from 9am to 5pm for twelve days during the International Festival of the Arts, when art anxiety reaches pandemic levels. He consulted with ninety patients. Many undertook a healing ‘pneumatic ritual’, using his handmade, blue-baize equipment. They used it to block outside distractions and to focus and facilitate their creative actions. One made protective headwear for those bang-your-head-against-the-wall moments of frustration. Another used small blue disks to trace other visitors’ movements through the space.
Under the guise of a public-health service, this live-art project was embedded into the Gallery’s usual operations: the Gallery front desk became a doctor’s reception, the Gallery boardroom became a consulting room, the Gallery phone number a helpline. Art was offered as a service rather than a product. But who or what was really being diagnosed?
Jason Maling, a Melbourne-based New Zealand artist, had previously undertaken a residency as The Physician at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, Sydney.