Circles of Fire (variations)

John A Douglas

“I am a hybrid denatured human – a bi-product of the corporate matrix of bio-medical industries. My death has been postponed until further notice.”

This 23min video installation Circles of Fire (variations) is an allegorical retelling of John A Douglas' physical and emotional journey through the experience of receiving a donated kidney.

Using the epic 14th-century poem Dante's Inferno as a loose structural template, the work is divided into nine sections from the time of the phone call, the transplantation surgery, near death, healing and patient regimentation.

The surreal sequences signify the nightmarish transition between near death and healing, and were shot on location in the ‘Doors to Hell’ gas craters in the Karakum Desert, Turkmenistan and Spotted Lake in Canada, a First Nations sacred site sought for the powers of its therapeutic waters.

PLEASE NOTE: This film features cannulation, a live medical procedure which involves the insertion of a small plastic tube into the artist's vein. Viewer discretion is advised.

About the contributor(s) 

John A Douglas is an Australian interdisciplinary artist working across video, performance, live art installation, photomedia, sound and objects. His practice investigates his ongoing experience of chronic illness through scientific, collaborative and immersive performance approaches. John A Douglas is represented by Chalk Horse gallery, Sydney Australia.

Special thanks to the First Nation Okanagan custodian of Spotted Lake (Kliluk), Senklip Skalwx of the Osoyoos Indian band for permission to perform and shoot at Spotted Lake, BC, Canada.

This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.

Australia Council for the Arts logo



The artist gratefully acknowledges the support of Symbiotica Lab, UWA, The School of Art, ANU Canberrra, The School of Media Arts, Creative Practice Lab, UNSW and the Bundanon Trust.