Artificial Hearts – The Bridge to Survival

with interventions from Judith Fegerl, Peter Garmusch, Stephanie Pflaum, Samuel Schaab, Anna Witt

Most galleries are closed for the summer break, so there is plenty of time to explore the less obvious houses of the museal landscape. And then, why not pay a visit to the Josephinum? It is a change for once to not have pieces of art with scientific aspects added to them but scientific objects (like wax models and anatomic drawings) with inherent aesthetic value. But there also are five interventions of contemporary art, dealing in one way or the other with the topic of the current exhibition about artificial hearts.

One of the interventions is Judith Fegerl´s „Temporal Deflector“ from 2008. It consists of a compass, circularly surrounded by 60 induction coils whose changing electromagnetic fields force the needle of the compass to move on just like a clock´s seconds hand. A means of spatial assignment becomes one of time. Obviously and according to the accompanying text the pumps of modern artificial hearts use a still finer but similar principle. And eventually in operations on the heart there occurs interference with a natural physical process and its rhythm gets artificially changed or regulated. „Temporal Deflector“ is generally a really astonishing piece of art, dealing with ideas about time and space.

Anna Witt as well takes up the heartbeat´s temporal aspect in her 2016 video work „Chorweiler Beat“. One person´s heart beat gets acustically recorded. Subsequently different young street dancers perform to this rhythm. Two perfect strangers get thrown into a very intimate kind of connection all of a sudden. I find this idea relly beautiful and very romantic in a way.
It is also nice to watch it just before leaving. Happy as we can be to live today, one does get a slightly uneasy feeling after having seen all these tools and models.

Julia Maurer


Sammlungen der medizinischen Universität Wien
Währinger Straße 25
1090 Wien




Header: Detail of Judith Fegerl, Temporal Deflector, 2008
1: colorized paintings opened human hearts of the Josephinum collection , Florence and Vienna, 1785
2: Stephanie Pflaum, Amor fati- Die Freiheit von Allem, 2017
3: Peter Garmusch, Studio #1, 2014