Body Parts for Sale Series: 02 Blood
about the exhibition
Explore my inspiration for the Body Parts for Sale exhibition in this blog post - Body Parts for Sale Series: Intro
Blood was the very first human part to be moved from person to person. The first blood transfusions during the 1800s were extremely risky procedures, often spreading disease or failing due to different blood types. It wasn’t until 1901, when blood types were discovered, that transfusions became safer and more dependable.
Today, America is the biggest exporter of blood worldwide, donating 1.5 million gallons every year. The country has a long history of blood donation. During the first and second world wars, blood wasn’t only a way to save lives, it was a weapon. A way to send soldiers back into battle. People were motivated to give blood, not only out of compassion but also due to a sense of patriotic duty.
After World War II, the US started paying people for blood, raising many ethical questions about the human body as a commodity. Most blood banks were located in poor areas, and the blood was badly regulated and poor quality. Meanwhile, the blood that was donated for free was better quality. So a new system was invented, with rules stating that blood donors would get no payment, and no personal recognition.
And it worked. When it comes to blood, altruism turns out to be a more dependable incentive than money. Blood banks need a steady supply of blood to have at hand in case of emergency. Additionally, many people are more than willing to donate blood in times of crisis.
Yet in countries like India, cultural differences make few people want to donate blood willingly. Instead, each individual in need of blood is required to first replace the amount they will need via donors they find themselves, often among friends and family. This makes it much harder for blood banks and hospitals to stockpile blood for emergencies, which has left the system open for exploitation.
There has been several cases of traffickers hunting for “donors” and selling their blood for a profit. In one especially gruesome case, an Indian dairy farmer held a large group of people captive for several years, draining their blood and selling it to blood banks.
I had a clear idea of how I wanted this artwork to turn out and the result matches my intentions well. Maybe too obviously, or maybe not, the inspiration is red blood cells, erythrocytes. I punched out circles from a thicker paper with a glossy finish. Since I only wanted the ink to stay along the edges of the circles, I figured that the glossier the better, the ink rubs if easier then. In each circle I wanted a hole and that was a challenge to achieve. I tried with a smaller punch but couldn’t get the circles to centre. In the end bought a compass circle cutter. That worked but took time and was rather painstaking.
When all the circles were cut out I glued them to a 1 mm cardboard. My preferred way to glue is to use spray mount that dries in 24 hours. There is no rush to glue things and there is no mess. On the flip side the solvent I use for the shellac flakes can dissolve the glue and change the placement of the elements. In this particular case it didn’t. Inking and printing this plate was pretty straight forward. I was worried that the final result could end up too light but as long as I don’t rub of too much ink the print comes out fine.
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To explore more about Body Parts for Sale, visit my other blog posts in this collection
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