In Sanatorium, Abi Palmer likens illness to a ‘lack of access’ to the world. But could we view this feeling of being ostensibly unmoored from reality as merely a different manifestation of it? Ableism is a prerequisite for the doctrine of optimum productivity and consumption endorsed by capitalist ethos, rendering healthcare essentially meritocratic. For women, BAME people, marginalised genders, queer people and anyone lacking cultural capital, who consequently struggle to be taken seriously by medical professionals (an experience that Palmer vividly evokes), performative illness becomes a grim necessity.
cw: mentions of ableism, homophobia
The creature is grinding its face against the glass door, the reptilian gape of its fangs no more than a few inches from the camera on the other side of it. Salivating, tongue fully extruded, its jaws open and close convulsively.
After perhaps thirty seconds, the creature stops what it is doing, raises its head and looks directly into the lens. Its eyes, suffused with hate, are strangely vacant. In a sudden rush of aggression it claws at the door, which audibly rattles. This lasts only moments before it drops back to all fours and resumes its frenzied drooling and chewing. The video ends with a freeze frame of that moment of eye contact: that intense, fixated stare.