Alen Agaronov, ScD
My art practice is summarized in Figure 1¸ above.
As a public health researcher, practitioner and educator, and a bioethicist, I am drawn to performative mediums in the health sciences, like "the conference lecture," "the science poster," "the webinar," "the IRB protocol," "the lab journal,” and "the peer-reviewed journal article." I bridge these scientistic mediums with 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 “science-like” modes of self-presentation further extend into broader questions about expertise, professionalism, and career advancement, as well as “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. My video-documented lecture-performances of common job-seeking rituals like "the job talk," "making the work portfolio," and "designing the home-office" offer paintings of the expert's drift (or dérive) between formality, informality, and (finally) their cinematic collapse, to test the architecture supporting their individuality, self-assuredness, able-bodiedness, endurance and masculinity.
My practice is physically and symbolically shaped by disability, including the aids, supports, and templates, including PowerPoint®, Zoom Meetings, and data visualization tools, which are intended for more efficient and accessible modes of working in under-resourced health institutions. By commonly pair these office tools with their visual art equivalents, such as ready-mades, found footage, pre-recorded performance, a running theme in my work is digital technology's limits and potential in aiding the achievement of aspirational goals – professional, artistic and 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 the process evaluation of three studies from a complex systems perspective, was funded by The Mellon Foundation and The Spencer Foundation. I was previously named 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 NYU Langone Health, where I am investigating the generation, interpretation and ethics of “real-world evidence” (RWE) as it relates to investigational medical interventions, or the Ethics and Real-World Evidence Research Project (ERWE).
Monday, May 2, 2022
New York City