Ambika P3 and the Casebooks Project at the University of Cambridge are delighted to present Casebooks, a major exhibition investigating one of the largest surviving sets of medical records in history. Internationally renowned contemporary artists Jasmina Cibic, Federico Díaz, Lynn Hershman Leeson, Rémy Markowitsch, Lindsay Seers and Tunga present a diverse and radical range of responses to the manuscripts of seventeenth-century English astrologer-physicians Simon Forman and Richard Napier. The 64 leather-bound volumes contain thousands of consultations made over nearly forty years relating to general health, disease and other afflictions of mind and body, as well as questions about sex, romance and marriage, job prospects and political and economic matters.
Inspired by ideas of alchemy, astrology, power, prophecy, knowledge and the materiality and content of the archive, Casebooks presents six new works spanning sculpture, video and audio installation, live performance, robotics and artificial intelligence. The artists worked closely with the University of Cambridge’s Casebooks Project, a ten-year long digitisation of the entire archive currently held at the Bodleian Library in Oxford.
Jasmina Cibic’s commission, Unforseen Foreseens, is a site-specific 12m long corridor installation fusing sculpture and performance, and alluding to the relationships between astrology, power and architecture. In the form of a trade fair booth, Federic Díaz’s new work Big Light Space of Augmented Suggestion synthesizes robotic arms, liquids and materials to offer a glimpse into a possible future of merging biological and technological scientific progress with social changes through augmented techno-shamanistic rituals.
Lynn Hershman Leeson’s Real Time Botnik is a 3D holographic Artificial Intelligence bot with a brain shaped by seventeenth-century century astrological consultations, and who is able to offer on-the-spot personal predictions. The Casebooks Calf by Rémy Markowitsch is a large-scale sculpture of a calf made of the same calfskin as the bindings of the casebooks, and from which emanate readings selected from the original seventeenth century consultations. Following a method of correspondences as Forman did in his astral cosmology, Lindsay Seer's work, Mental Metal draws on contemporary and historical divination to reference holistic approaches to the body and mind in a roving orchestration of diagrams, symbols and images projected across two large satellite dishes.
Me, You and the Moon (2015), a recent work chosen for the exhibition by the late artist Tunga, is a monolithic sculptural constellation of clay, rock and organic materials symbolising alchemy, astrology and the senses.
The curator of the exhibition, Dr Michael Mazière, said “Casebooks aims to engage artists and audiences with questions of interpretation of the astrologer-physicians manuscripts within an ecology of contemporary media and practice. The artists have incorporated material from the casebooks where it provided meaning and as a sounding board for their art practice, engaging with different layers of the records and the encounters they document.”