Performing Medicine Selected Study Course

As part of the Performing Medicine Selected Study Module at King’s students were asked to create a final performance. Artist Sheila Ghelani introduced students to a range of performance work including pieces by Bobby Baker, Yoko Ono, Peggy Shaw and Spalding Gray for inspiration. They then chose a theme relevant to their clinical practise and created a five minute performance. Below are four examples of student pieces captured on film, as well as student reflections on the SSC.

Aarthi Ravishankar If Only You Ask

In If only you ask I draw inspiration from poetess Sarah Kay and other spoken word performers including Spalding Gray, Kate Tempest and Shane Koyczan to perform spoken word poetry that explores the role of the doctor in recognising and reporting domestic violence. Inspired by true stories, I hope my work can highlight the tragedy of domestic abuse and emphasise to my fellow students the importance of not neglecting this prevalent yet under-recognised issue.


Dahlia Hopmeier Instance

The inspiration for my performance piece, Instance, comes from an experience I had shadowing a neurology consultant who deals with motor neurone disease (MND), which is a devastating and incurable condition with a life expectancy of just 2-5 years after onset. I wished to explore the intense moment of uncertainty before hearing a life-changing diagnosis. I drew inspiration from the poetic language of performance artist Peggy Shaw, with particular emphasis on her work Norma Shaw. The live acts carried out during the performance were inspired in part by Yoko Ono’s Cut Piece in order to symbolise the vulnerability, injury and internal conflict of the moment. With this performance I hoped to capture the intensity of the instant before diagnosis but also to gain a deeper understanding of what many patients go through in their lifetime.


Rachel Seet Defining f(x)

In Defining f(x), I draw inspiration from Bobby Baker’s artistic concepts and Jerome Bel’s Shirtology to create a performance which explores the use of protocols (which can be likened to mathematical functions) in treatment, in the context of junior doctors. Drawing on personal experience as well as relevant literature, I use crafted props, and a mix of everyday items and medical equipment, to depict a storyline in creating live art. I hope my work can:

1. Resonate with all my colleagues in the audience, providing a cause for personal awareness and reflection as we advance to become junior doctors together in the near future; and

2. Reiterate what we all know but subconsciously forget in the moment – that treatment involves intrinsically unique patients, not identical diseases.


In the sidebar are some student responses to the experience.