“Her installation is in the same league as those paintings of crying children or blackcocks at play,” writes David Eberhard from Stockholm’s St. Göran’s Hospital, on the Newsmill website.
“She and the head of the school ought to cut their hair and get a real job.”
The comments come in the wake of a daring performance by Anna Odell, a 35-year-old student at the University College of Arts, Crafts and Design (Konstfack), Sweden’s largest college for the arts.
As a part of her final project before graduation, Odell pretended she was going to jump off a bridge to commit suicide. Horrified witnesses called police, who then tried to restrain the kicking and screaming Odell.
After arriving at the hospital’s psychiatric ward, Odell proceeded to scream at the medical staff who attempted to help her, even spitting in the faces of several nurses.
She was eventually restrained on a gurney and given drugs to calm her down, remaining in the hospital overnight as doctors attempted to diagnose her psychiatric condition.
Odell later revealed the whole episode was an act and part of a larger art project which won’t be completed until May.
The charade caused Eberhard to lash out at Odell for using up scarce resources and staff time at the already crowded hospital.
“It’s not only cheeky that she used society’s resources, what she also did to other patients, the staff – to everyone – is shameless,” he told the Aftonbladet newspaper.
Another staff member present the night Odell was admitted said he was traumatized by the event.
“Having to restrain another human being is excruciating and something you keep with you,” he told the newspaper.
“Other seriously ill psychotic and suicidal patients – whom we are there to help – had to wait because of this.”
An unapologetic Odell remained tight lipped about the exact nature of her art project, which had been approved by the college.
“I don’t want to risk my project. But it is well thought through and no joke,” she told Aftonbladet.
But the hospital didn’t appreciate being an unwitting participant in the project and has reported her to the police for assault, violence against a public servant, and raising a false alarm.
Eberhard, who led the team which cared for Odell, remains skeptical about the artistic merits of her project.
“It’s just pathetic. Paint a picture instead,” he told Dagens Medicin, offering an idea for an art project of his own featuring a common anti-psychotic drug.
“But she’s welcome to come back so I can give her a shot of Haloperidol, and then we’ll see how much fun she has. That would make a great installation.”