Last night, I went to apexart to listen to a talk given by Dr. Berlet, the plastic surgeon (also formally trained in architecture) who was the curator of the exhibition I went to see last week.
Dr. Berlet noted that most people think of face lifts when they think of plastic surgery. He then elaborated on the variety and complexity of procedures that are done today. Interestingly, Dr. Berlet said that nasal surgery has been around the longest - dating back to 600 B.C., when the punishment for adultery was cutting off the offender's nose. Later in history, nasal surgery was needed by those who had lost their noses in duels, a common method of resolving disputes.
Because everyone has a different nose, Dr. Berlet said that rhinoplasty was his favorite surgery because it allowed for greater creativity. He also said that he enjoyed the challenge of liposuction, which he likened to sculpting. Breast augmentations, he said, did not require as much artistic talent, and therefore, he categorized them as somewhat routine.
I asked Dr. Berlet about the statistics regarding the number of male patients seeking plastic surgery. He said that there are approximately 400,000 women who seek plastic surgery per year, as compared to about 4,000 men, the latter of whom tend to request face lifts and liposuction, as well as procedures to correct their lower eyelids.
One of the audience members asked the doctor how his training in architecture influenced his plastic surgery. Dr. Berlet stated that as in architecture, one has to consider the algorithms and limits of possibility, i.e. when dealing with the human body, the surgeon is limited by blood supply and potential for scarring and thus, has to carefully consider the range of outcomes beforehand.
Steven Rand, the Executive Director of apexart, told me that for the past 20 years, he had wanted to invite a plastic surgeon to curate a show of this nature. For various reasons, it took this long to find a group of doctors who fit the bill of both surgeons and artists. I think it was well worth the wait. I Am Art will be on until May 9th.