Autoimmune Animations: Intimacies of Care and Constraint
Hannah Clarkson
Project overview —

These animations are experiments through which to explore the relationality between different areas and methods of my research and practice: drawing, performance, and the medical humanities. They are a method of engaging with method; a way of trying to understand what relationship drawing might have to movement or performance through a choreography of control and letting go. Made by feeding my drawings into an app created to animate children’s drawings of people, it would be easy to assume that these animations might provide a direct translation into or a score for performance. Instead, what emerge are absurd ‘autoimmune’ animations of a body which seems forced into movements it doesn’t want to make. Or, perhaps this is precisely the plurality my research as a whole seeks, acknowledging the intimate relationalities between care and constraint; the ambivalence of an autoimmune body which both protects and provokes itself. In trying animation for the first time through an app wherein I cannot control what my drawings might become, this research extract hopes to embrace that paradox of a body (the physical body/a body of research) struggling to exert control over itself; whilst giving itself over to movement towards a place or sensation unknown.

This exposition is an extract from my ongoing practice-led PhD research, The Art of A(r)mour: playful strategies of resistance, costumes of care and absurd decorum for the autoimmune body.

Hannah Clarkson is a visual artist, writer and researcher with an interest in materialities of storytelling and voice, and embodied languages of empathy. With a BFA from Ruskin School of Art, Oxford University (2013) and an MFA from Konstfack, Stockholm (2017), she is currently a practice­-led PhD candidate in Arts & Humanities at the Royal College of Art, London (2021-2025). Alongside an active art and writing practice, she teaches creative writing for post-graduate students at Royal Institute of Art, Stockholm. Publications include: Decolonizing Architecture anthology (ed., 2021); Synonyms for Shelter poetry collection (2020); and The Green Room: Perspectives on Artistic Research (ed., 2018).
In Clarkson’s PhD research – building on medical humanities practices – autoimmunity meets autopathography and absurdity in an embodied illness narrative, advocating both personal and social agency through exploration of the possibilities and parameters of play. Led by practice, this research aims to re-present ‘autoimmune’ understandings of shelter, playing with absurd sculptural costumes and performance to articulate material, relatable narratives of trauma and care.