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Boston Society of Architects

Well Feature

Capsule review

WELL Winter 2015

1 What Once Was Imagined photo Marcelo Eli݁dio

What Once Was Imagined (2015)
10-metre circular installation illustrating medicine in the 21st century

Inspired by global plant sources for medicines and fashioned in the form of a mantilha — a Brazilian headdress — the artwork reconfigures more than 9,000 pills and packets into a richly composed amalgam of plant life.

Susie Freeman and Liz Lee, Commissioned for the exhibition INVENTO, at OCA Museum in São Paulo. Photo: Marcelo Elídio

The artists Susie Freeman and David Critchley and doctor Liz Lee give new meaning to the phrase “body of work.” Over the years, the British trio has collaborated on art that riffs on how we respond to medical issues, armed with a dispensary of drugs to boost our sense of wellness. Calling themselves Pharmacopoeia, they incorporate pills and their packaging into fabric by a process known as “pocket knitting,” creating objects and installations that seem to beg the question: In the overmedicated world we live in, have we created landscapes of healing — or of harm? Their creations conjure up a worrying world, one that synthesizes and then explodes the idea of treatment, cure, and well-being.

OTC Veil

The first collaboration by Freeman and Lee is a not-so-veiled commentary about “political prescribing,” or how women were given sedatives because it afforded society an easy way of dealing with poverty and domestic violence.

White Pain

Mesh pockets chronicle the array of drugs one man takes — starting as a child with pills for earache, toothache, and sore throats through painkillers and anti-depressants in adulthood to opiates for cancer at the end of his life.

Weig tot Graf

Wieg tot Graf reveals the story of a typical man and woman through the medication they have taken in their lifetime, accompanied by family album photographs, documents, and objects. On permanent display at CBG-MEB (Medicines Evaluation Board), Utrecht, Netherlands.