• HAEMATOLOGY AND THE SELF



Photo Copyright Marc Quinn

This incredible self portrait is  made out of his own blood, read the Huffington Post interview below from 2012

HP: 'The Independent' reported 'Self' was inspired by Rembrandt's self-portraits. How so?

MQ: Doing one every five years, they become a sort of record of a life, in a sense that the real work to me is the totality of all the sculptures which exist in my lifetime. Which is how i think of Rembrandt's self portraits -- that each one is a part of a larger work which is the series.

HP: Many of your works, from working with blood to DNA, are science experiments as much as artworks. What scientific training, if any, do you have?

MQ: I did science at school, but mainly my scientific knowledge comes from speaking to my father who is a physicist. He ran the BIPM (Bureau International des Poids et Mesures) in Paris which is the organization which looks after the kilogram, the metre and the second. He is a now a fellow of the Royal Society and has just written a book called "Artifacts to Atoms" about the history of measurement, so i guess there was a very scientific atmosphere at home, or at least it led me not to differentiate between different forms of creativity, whether they be artistic or scientific.

HP: How much blood is used for each portrait and how exactly do you go about the extraction process? Do you feel physical effects from the blood loss?

MQ: By some freak coincidence, the volume of my head is the volume of the circulation system of my body, about nine pints. In the years I'm making a blood head I go and visit my doctor every six weeks and he takes a pint out in the same way as if i was giving blood. I do feel a bit tired the day after but one of the great things about the sculptures to me is that they are about the amazing regenerative power of the human body, in that I exist, and five of these sculptures exist so there are about 60 pints of my blood in the world and I'm still alive.

HP: Art in has the ability to immortalize its subject. How is this metaphorical immortality amplified by your artwork being not just a representation of you, but a literal part of you?

MQ: In a funny way I think "Self," the frozen head series, is about the impossibility of immortality. This is an artwork on life support. If you unplug it, it turns to a pool of blood. It can only exist in a culture where looking after art is a priority. It's unlikely to survive revolutions, wars and social upheaval, I also think that the total self portrait-ness of using my blood and my body has an ironic factor as well, in that even though the sculpture is my form and made from the material from my body, to me if just emphasises the difference between a truly living person and the materials which make that person up. The sort of literalist point that has been missed by the cryogenicists who freeze themselves for supposed future regeneration.