Heart of the Matter

2014

This interactive sound installation was made as part of a unique interdisciplinary project based in Toronto, Canada. The PITH (Process of Incorporating a Transplanted Heart) Project brings together artists, theorists, and an interdisciplinary medical research team to examine the often-unacknowledged emotional and psychological effects of heart transplant on recipients. The project is based on the premise that whilst heart transplant is now almost a routine operation, the nature and prevalence of the psychological and emotional disruptions that confront heart transplant patients are less well understood. Along with three other artists, Catherine Richards (Canada), Andrew Carnie (UK), and Ingrid Bachmann (Canada), I was i invited to make work that responds to the transdisciplinary research of Dr. Heather Ross, chief transplant cardiologist at the Toronto General Hospital Cardiac Unit; health researcher Dr. Pat McKeever; transplant psychiatrist, Dr. Susan Abbey; social worker Dr. Jennifer Poole (Ryerson University); and British philosopher Dr. Margrit Shildrick (Queen’s University Belfast). 'Heart of the Matter', first shown as part of 'Hybrid Bodies' at PHI centre, Montreal in January 2014, is an eight channel audio installation made in response to this research.

Heart of the Matter explores the impact that heart transplant can have on a recipient’s sense of self as a bounded and unique individual. In the installation, individual accounts of the experience of heart transplant are juxtaposed with personal narratives of intimate relationships, where a parallel leaking of boundaries occurs in the interdependent affiliation between self and other. The stories, which emerge from a series of simple felt jackets, are activated as visitors approach. As more people enter the space, the eight individual stories are overlaid to form a web of interconnected testimonies about the effects of a physical or emotional change of heart - it's often difficult to distinguish between the two.

In 2016 Heart of the Matter was remade for KunstKraftwerk in Leipzig, Germany. This is its final configuration. It is now Available in German as well as in English. 

​© Alexa Wright, 2017