Alen Agaronov, ScD
My art practice is summarized in Figure 1.
As a public scientist, program evaluator, and bioethicist, I am drawn to the health sciences' performative mediums, such as "the science poster presentation," "the instructional webinar," and "the peer-reviewed manuscript." I experiment with these scientistic elements through the lecture-performance - an activist form of pedagogy born out of performance art - to investigate conceptions of academic subjectivity, scientific integrity, and research excellence.
My work on the modes of self-presentation in the health sciences further extends into broader questions about expertise, professionalism, career advancement, and “reinvention of the self” – analogous to the politically-loaded Soviet concept of the rémont, or the tireless, ongoing practice of home renovation and life reimagination. This line of work is most evident in my video-documented lecture-performances of common job-seeking tools and rituals, like practicing "the job talk," making "the project portfolio," and designing "the home-office." In my work, the sculptural conditions cause the job-seeker to "drift" (dérive) between the formal and the informal in a test of their endurance, exceptionalism, self-assuredness, able-bodiedness, and masculinity - before reaching a cinematic, physical collapse, an epiphany - and a job.
My practice is physically and symbolically shaped by disability and the technological aids that I grew to depend on from working in under-resourced public health institutions. Nebulous supports like PowerPoint templates, Google Drawings, data analysis software, and Zoom meetings inform the form of my work as much as they make it more accessible. In pairing these everyday "office tools" with their false equivalents in the visual arts - such as ready-mades, found footage, and video editing software - a running theme in my work is digital technology's limits and potential in aiding the achievement of aspirational goals – whether professional, artistic or personal.
I work with my partner, HY Florence Lam, who is an architectural designer by training.
I completed my doctorate in social and behavioral sciences at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health ('22), where I also pursued a secondary field in Critical Media Practice through The Film Study Center. My research on “para-performative practices” in public health interventions, based on a series of process evaluations performed through a complex systems framework, was funded by The Mellon Foundation and The Spencer Foundation. I was a New Civics Scholar through the Harvard Graduate School of Education ('17) and a Rose Service Learning Fellow ('19) through The Chan School. From 2015 to 2021, I regularly taught courses at Harvard College on aesthetics, idea translation, higher education, global health, medical anthropology, and social medicine. My interest in public science originated from my BS-MS studies at the CUNY School of Public Health at Hunter College ('12).
I’m currently a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Division of Medical Ethics at the NYU Grossman School of Medicine, where I am building a public platform to study the ethics, policies, and human conditions surrounding access to investigational therapeutics, especially as it relates to real-world evidence (RWE).
Monday, May 2, 2022
New York City