Location: Montreal, Canada
Program: Abortion Clinic addition to Women’s Hospital
Research Area: Spatial Psychology
This project responds to the emotional and physical pain that a person going through abortion experiences. Inspired by Natalia Subotintic’s writings on “anesthetic induction”, it constructs a spatial and temporal parallel to the four phases of ether anesthesia explored in her essay.
The sequence of these stages creates a hypnotic spatial narrative for an abortion clinic addition to Montreal’s Victoria Hospital. The spatial narrative prepares the patient for the operation and result in reduced need on pre-anaesthetic. (Subotincic, 1994)
In construction the spaces the project in influenced by Duchamp’s work in The Large Glass and Etant Donnes, the architecture seeks a “fourth dimension”2 . A place where a distortion of spectator’s perception of reality carries them into an estate of “indeterminacy and disorientation by inducing aesthetic unconsciousness” as she Subotincic describes. Similarly, the four stages of ether anesthesia result in an emerging “unconscious perceptual awakening that, revealed through an extended experience of embodiment, and a “space of desire”. Space were “ architecture dwells”.
Architecture Takes on a more active role in the first two stages of anesthesia and acts more passively in the following phases:
“It is believed that the undue stresses and tensions caused by the obtrusive condition may be alleviated by inducing a slow and progressive detachment from and a habit which is reality.” The narrative begins with inducing anesthesia through anamorphic spaces of the elevator and the long hallway leading to the second stage.in This Stage “Anamorphosis upsets the stable orientation of order, releasing elements from their visible limits or appearance and throwing all into disorientation.”
“The second stage is a limbo between the start of analgesia and the beginning of complete muscle relaxation. Occasionally gesticulation, words or attempts to move are made. Laughing or screaming may occur as well. These are voluntary endeavors guided by instinct rather than reason. The patient can often be quieted by words and will do as she is told. So the patient is being monitored and words will help her to calm down if needed.” Upon passing the hallway she arrives in a large room with a bed where the second inhalation of ether takes place.
“Surgical breathing becomes quite rhythmic and somewhat rapid. The patient may moan but never with articulated sounds only groans and flinches. Abortion procedure takes place.” The floor descends to the lower level where the abortion takes place, space she will not remember.
“This stage immediately precedes death and to be avoided. The heart still beats but the patient stays alive only by artificial respiration and if disconnected after1-2 minutes patient returns to the third stage, 3-4 minutes patient returns to the second stage, 5 minutes patient returns to first stage”. After the operation, The floor ascends to the upper floor but she is moved to the room adjacent to the one she entered. Here she finds herself in a space with an unobstructed window of Mount Royal and an elevator that takes her back to reality.
2. quotations from Anaesthetic Induction: An Excursion into the World of Visual Indifference : Natalia Subotincic