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Barbara Asselbergs exhibits her research project from the patient’s perspective

Caradt researcher Barbara Asselbergs made hundreds of photographs from the perspective of herself as a patient. She exhibited these in her room at the Amsterdam University Medical Center (Amsterdam UMC).

In her work for Caradt and St. Joost School of Art and Design Barbara focuses on situated design methods, in which the working or living environment of the user is central. Last year, this environment suddenly became the living environment of a patient when Barbara was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia. An intensive treatment program started. She underwent another chemotherapy in July and stayed in the hospital for 42 days.

Barbara started documenting her treatment program as a kind of survival strategy from the moment her room at the Amsterdam UMC was decorated by the staff because of the registered partnership she had with her husband Lex the day before.

“When I saw the photo of Lex between the balloons, I knew that here too I can use my qualities as a designer through artistic research. The medical environment, the people, the events became part of my creative process. ”

Exhibition

Barbara took over five hundred photographs of her micro-universe in the hospital. Photos of doctors and nurses, nutritionists, her treatments, and her spiritual caregiver. Everything and everyone was captured. After a couple of days she created an exhibition herself by hanging the first photos in her room. Photos were added every week.

The exhibition in Barbara’s room became a topic of conversation and led to personal conversations between employees of the hospital and Barbara herself regardless of illness, care, role and position. “Social relationships became more equal.” She highlights experiences and details that may elude others. “My photographs draw the staff into the patient’s experience.”

Barbara is now receiving outpatient treatment. “What is characteristic of this research is that the process is not only in service of the outcome, but also has an autonomous value in itself.” In November 2020, the staff magazine DNA of the Amsterdam UMC published an article about Barbara’s project.

Situated Design Methods

This research project focuses on innovation in the design education of the New Design & Attitudes programme of St. Joost Academy of Art & Design. 

Presentatie ontwerpresultaten wijk Boschveld in ’s-Hertogenbosch. © Cindy van Ree
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‘I look at the ways in which citizens can play an active role in shaping their cities, and how new media and technology can contribute to this.’

Barbara Asselbergs is a researcher within the Situated Art and Design research group and coordinator of the New Design & Attitudes at St. Joost School of Art & Design. 

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Research Group: Situated Art and Design

Living in cities developed around data and acting within the inscrutable structure of our techno-society demands art and design that can help understand how we relate to these rapidly changing surroundings and to reflect on that relationship. The research group Situated Art and Design responds to this exigency by fostering a situated turn in art and design through a diverse portfolio of interdisciplinary research projects in partnership with academic and cultural partners, as well as with government and industry.

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