21st Century

Josh Bitelli

Thursday 25 February, 7pm

A new performance by London-based artist, Josh Bitelli, commissioned as part of our 21st Century programme. Bitelli presents a musical performance with members of the London Doctors Choir.  

The musical score is composed by Bitelli for soprano, alto, tenor and bass, drawing on sections of Claude Debussy’s Préludes (1909-1913), as well as excerpts from pop and metal music and film soundtracks, all of which use patterns of repetition and simple chord construction to evoke emotional response. The lyrics are drawn from sources including guidelines for medical etiquette, the pre-operative oral contract and case studies on consumption of foreign bodies published by the British Medical Journal (BMJ).  

Bitelli’s performance combines medical language and popular tropes of music composition to explore the roles of care and empathy – both in the context of professional doctor-patient relations and amateur musical performance. Bitelli incorporates a series of warm-up exercises, focusing on various body parts and muscle groups and their relationship to the voice. This heightened awareness of the performers’ bodies contrasts with the clinical vocabulary of the medical case studies.  

The figure of the foreign body and its consumption represents the disconnect between the embodiment of emotion and the institutionalisation of care within the medical context. Bitelli does not seek to re-enact moments of medical care, but to re-articulate its language through sung performance and its resonance within the bodies of the performers and the audience.  

Bitelli produced an online element of his commission, which is available here.

Bitelli's recent solo exhibitions and projects include LimescaleTea, tank.tv, London; To Gaze at Ten Suns Shining (with Sarah Abu Abdallah) at POOL, Hamburg (both 2015); and dis magazine (2014). Recent group shows include CO-WORKERS – Network as Artist, Musée d'Art moderne de la Ville de Paris; Pavillon de l’esprit nouveau, Swiss Institute, New York (both 2015); and 89plus marathon, Serpentine Galleries, London (2013).

Chisenhale Gallery’s 21st Century programme 2015-16 is supported by  
Marie and Joe Donnelly.

London Doctors Choir have chosen to donate their fee for this event to 
Doctors of the World UK. 



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