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When Pain Strikes

1998

Bill Burns, Cathy Busby, and Kim Sawchuk, editors

When Pain Strikes

A multimedia, multidisciplinary exploration of new ways to understand pain.

How we in North America respond to pain-what we think about it, what we say, and what we do-is the subject of this collection of writings and images. The book’s five sections comprise original artwork, scholarly analyses, poetic and literary texts, and discussions by activists. The authors-as TV watchers, recreational drug users, recipients of medical attention, caregivers, midwives, or the HIV positive-inhabit and reconfigure our contemporary painscape, offering a new approach to the puzzle of pain.

Contributors: Charles R. Acland, Barbara McGill Balfour, Isabelle Brabant, Stephen Busby, Millie Chen, Michael Fernandes, Bob Flanagan, Thyrza Nichols Goodeve, Marie-Paule Macdonald, Ronald Melzack, Margaret Morse, Celeste Olalquiaga, John O’Neill, Gerard Päs, Elsie Petch, D. L. Pughe, Julia Scher, Cathy Sisler, Johanne Sloan, Jana Sterbak, Fred Tomaselli, Patrick D.Wall, Theodore Wan, Gregory Whitehead, and Fred Wilson.

When Pain Strikes is about pain and also shows various ways of understanding or getting past pain by means of language and art. Altogether this book is a pleasure to read however paradoxical that might be.

New Art Examiner

When pain strikes, do you raid the medicine cabinet? Read a self-help manual? Hit the roof? How we in North America respond to pain-what we think about it, what we say, and what we do-is the subject of this collection of writings and images.

The book’s five sections contain a myriad of complex reactions to the occurrence of pain: “Measure It” discusses biomedical responses; “Scream and Yell” explores therapeutic solutions; “Cut It Open” takes up surgical interventions; “Take a Pill” looks at pharmacology; and “Intensify It” examines positions that embrace pain. Each section comprises original artwork, scholarly analyses, poetic and literary texts, and discussions by activists. Hailing from the university, the gallery, and the community organization, the authors—as TV watchers, recreational drug users, recipients of medical attention, caregivers, midwives, or the HIV positive—inhabit and reconfigure our contemporary painscape, offering a new approach to the puzzle of pain.

Contributors: Charles R. Acland; Barbara McGill Balfour; Isabelle Brabant; Stephen Busby; Millie Chen; Michael Fernandes; Bob Flanagan; Thyrza Nichols Goodeve; Marie-Paule Macdonald; Ronald Melzack; Margaret Morse; Celeste Olalquiaga; John O’Neill; Gerard Päs; Elsie Petch; D. L. Pughe; Julia Scher; Cathy Sisler; Johanne Sloan; Jana Sterbak; Fred Tomaselli; Patrick D. Wall; Theodore Wan; Gregory Whitehead; Fred Wilson.

When Pain Strikes is published in collaboration with the Banff Centre for the Arts.

When Pain Strikes

Bill Burns, a conceptual artist and writer, has exhibited his work internationally in such places as New York City, London, Amsterdam, Marseilles, and Toronto. He has been an artist in residence in France and at the Banff Centre for the Arts.

Cathy Busby has worked as a writer with the New Media Studio at the National Gallery of Canada. Her work as a communications researcher and curator focuses on pain.

Kim Sawchuk is associate professor of communications studies at Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec.

When Pain Strikes

When Pain Strikes is about pain and also shows various ways of understanding or getting past pain by means of language and art. Altogether this book is a pleasure to read however paradoxical that might be.

New Art Examiner

When Pain Strikes is an extremely well-paced, readable and handsomely designed anthology of texts, documents, and art relating to the inherently evasive subject of pain. The general mix, range and quality of the 30 entries is superb. This beautifully designed book is thought-provoking, stimulating and touching. It will be a valuable addition to any library.

Toronto Globe and Mail

Pain is a hidden language awaiting articulation, and in this rich and wonderfully eclectic book of essays, a whole range of contributors-visual artists, heath activists, academic, adventurous masochists and pain scientist take a crack at decoding all the things we mean by pain.

The National Post (Canada)

The mixture of short pieces in many genres and diverse visual images in When Pain Strikes enlivens our understanding of cultural and personal aspects of pain. By engaging not just with representations of bodies but with pain as a central problem of embodiment itself, this collection has a refreshing directness and urgency.

Judith Farquhar, author of Knowing Practice: The Clinical Encounter of Chinese Medicine