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Jadwiga Kamola publishes dissertation

Dec 13, 2018

Dr. Jadwiga Kamola, associate member of the HCTS, published her dissertation "Tumor im Blick" with Böhlau Verlag. Her study examines a comprehensive image collection and establishes the phenomenon of the patient's portrait within the wider genre of the medical portrait. Dr. Kamola conducted the research for her dissertation with the professorship of Global Art History.

The volume investigates a series of Chinese tumor patients shown in classical portrait format, and locates them within a global spectrum of medical oil portraits and medical atlases. The overall aim of Dr. Kamola's research was to arrive at a draft of a Negative Aesthetics understood as a visual strategy and a creative process.

Her dissertation discusses a vast corpus of canvases, gouaches and watercolors of tumor patients from the years 1835–1850, drawn and painted by the Cantonese artist Lam Qua and his workshop. Against previous positions of the genre in the context of the freak shows, the author shows that these extraordinary portraits were not only a global genre, but were also the result of a historical development. In a clinical context, these portraits of patients corresponded with portrait painting, while at the same time embracing the popular discipline of physiognomics. Thus, the paintings were "read" semiotically by the viewer.

Dr. Jadwiga Kamola studied History of Art and English at the universities in Freiburg, Dublin, and Berlin and received her M.A. in History of Art at the Freie Universität in 2010. Her scholarly interests include images of illness, materiality (paint and flesh), the interface of art and medicine, and the relationship between painting and photography, seeing and knowing. These interests culminated in her PhD project "Lam Qua's Portraits of Patients. Approaches towards a Global Negative Aesthetics in the Nineteenth Century," which she conducted at the Cluster "Asia and Europe."


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