CHHS Research Seminar: Exploring the Franko B Archives

Following a ‘Research Resources’ award from Wellcome, the Theatre Collection has been working on a project for the past 18 months to catalogue, conserve and make publicly accessible the archive of artist, curator and teacher, Franko B.  Franko B’s practice explores the limits of the body, touching on pain, suffering and sexuality in contemporary culture.  He rose to prominence in the 1990s due to his extraordinary body-based performances at the ICA in London that often involved blood-letting.  Creating work across performance, video, photography, painting, sculpture and mixed media for the last 30 years, Franko’s experiences of suffering, neglect, homelessness and marginalisation as an adolescent, and then as a young gay man and punk living in London during the AIDS epidemic, deeply influenced and intertwined with his practice.  Archivists Jo Elsworth, Julian Warren, Sian Williams, who are working on the project, introduced the Franko B archive and there was an opportunity to handle items from the collection.

Attendees were made aware that Franko’s archive contains material which some people may consider challenging, including images depicting blood-letting and sexually explicit images.

Public Lecture

The Centre for Science and Philosophy and the Centre for Health, Humanities and Science co-hosted a Public Lecture entitled ‘Why Precision Medicine is not Very Precise (and why this should not surprise us)’. There was a talk by Professor Anya Plutynski, followed by a panel discussion with Dr Karoline Wiesner , Dr James Brennan and Heidi LoughlinDr Julian Baggini acted as Chair.



Precision medicine has created a lot of hope, especially for cancer patients. In the ideal case, there is one comprehensive test provided to patients, a clear-cut prognosis, one clearly preferred targeted therapy, and outcomes will be ideal. Plutynski argued that in the vast majority of cases, what we actually find, and indeed ought to expect, are rather different outcomes. Decisions about treatment are complex, there are moderate improvements in survival in the vast majority of cases, and indeed, very few cancer patients are likely to benefit. This talk explained why this is true, and why this should (by now) not surprise us. Plutynski then offered advice for patients and families, and for researchers and policy makers, to ensure better communication about this difficult process.