Kaposi Sarcoma


Not on view

Mottled by tumors and lesions, this arm exhibits classic symptoms of Kaposi sarcoma, a type of cancer that causes abnormal tissue growth. In 1900, American doctors were debating the use of photography for medical subjects. Some felt that, whereas scientific drawings illustrated the essential characteristics of a disorder, the camera often captured an excess of irrelevant detail and risked objectifying the afflicted. Perhaps in response to these concerns, the photographer here enveloped the cancerous arm in bedsheets and isolated it against a solid background. This gesture severs the arm from the body of the unseen patient—an inadvertent human specimen.

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