The Immortal

Revital Cohen (United Kingdom), Tuur Van Balen (Belgium)

Galata Greek Primary School


“Life support machines are extraordinary devices; computers designed to activate human bodies when anatomy fails, hidden away in hospital wards. Designed as the ultimate utilitarian appliances, they are extremely meaningful and carry a complex social, cultural and ethical subtext. While life-prolonging technologies are meant as emergency measures to combat or delay death, the installation considers these devices as a human enhancement strategy… The medical machine – in use or not – is an object that transcends its materiality. Designed to perform a single function, we never subject them to critical investigation as industrial products within the context of material culture. This work aims to explore the nature of these devices as objects of our times, liberated from their restrained purpose while still charged with its resonance.” –RC, TvB


Revital Cohen and Tuur van Balen’s The Immortal consists of a single-channel video and a drawing that document the artists’ installation of five interconnected life-support machines. Instead of being attached to a body, the machines circulate liquids between themselves, challenging the boundary between biological structure and mechanical support. The machines only support themselves, foregrounding the life of machines and Western understandings of the body as a mechanical device and the medical ethics debates that surround it.