Ivan Bujan traces the history of disease and resistance in “(Un)masking Health: Counter Perspectives”
The Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum has extended the illuminating and instructive work of Ivan Bujan, (Un)masking health: counter-perspectivesnow on display in the Educational Gallery until the beginning of July.
A collaborative venture between Ivan Bujan, an instructor at Washington University in St. Louis, and the museum’s curators, the exhibit is the latest in a series of installations dating back to the opening of the Museum’s Teaching Gallery. museum almost two decades ago.
“As a university museum, we’re always looking for ways to incorporate art from the permanent collection into the program, building strong ties with campus departments,” says Meredith Malone, museum curator. “It was Ivan’s first time curating an exhibition, so my role was really that of a facilitator, helping him identify works of art in the collection that would support his investigation of the notion of health as a contested arena embedded in exclusionary ideologies of race, gender, sexuality, ability and class.
Like the many questions that animate the Bujan scholarship — What is health? What is disease? How are these things socially constructed and how do their meanings change over time? – the inquiry at the heart of its installation is as ambitious as it is rich in nuance, asking its viewers to consider new frameworks for considering systemic and structural racism, the current AIDS crisis and the COVID pandemic.
Bujan, originally from Croatia, moved to New York in 2013 to pursue graduate studies in performance studies and queer theory. After earning his doctorate from Northwestern University, he accepted a postdoctoral fellowship in women, gender, and sexuality studies at the University of Washington, where he now teaches the course “Queering the History of Health” in conjunction with the exhibition.
“I want to activate the gallery as a space for learning outside of the classroom, as a place to explore how artworks and archival ephemera can be used to talk about larger social, political and cultural issues. wide,” says Bujan. “Students come to my class with assumptions, but I like to break them down so we can build together and see what we learn.”
Taken together, the photographs and posters (including one produced by Bob Hansman in conjunction with the St. Louis Effort for AIDS in the 1980s), fact sheets and activism stickers, and public art artifacts and health crises all constitute a spectrum of materials that professors in different schools and colleges of the university have used in their teaching this year.
“While the teaching gallery exhibits are designed for a specific classroom, the broader themes are relevant to lessons across all disciplines,” says Malone. “The installation of Ivan Bujan, (Un)masking health: counter-perspectives, for example, is used in gallery classes for WashU medical students learning about patient stigma and the social determinants of health. Each collaboration brings new and interesting perspectives in terms of the questions asked and new insights into the donated artworks, as well as the thought-provoking juxtaposition of materials.
The Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum is free and open to the public. The exhibition (Un)masking of health: cross-perspectives early July 2022.