On Tuesday, March 6, a full-scale, highly detailed replica of the female figure stood at the Louvre-Rivoli metro station with 3D-printed prostheses attached to her shoulders. One, bent, held an apple; the other lay on her thigh. The action was organized by the aid organization Handicap International as part of its campaign to boost awareness of the global need for prosthetics. The French nonprofit has developed a pilot program to produce 3D-printed limbs in a process that reduces manufacturing time while improving accessibility for patients in remote regions or conflict zones; it has already organized trials in Togo, Madagascar, and Syria. According to its numbers, about 100 million people around the world need artificial limbs.
The intervention lasted one day only, although Handicap International is urging people to share the photographs on social media with its hashtag. Far from a viral stunt, the campaign is a powerful call to the public to consider how we think about abled and disabled bodies in terms of normalcy and abnormalcy. It not only makes aids highly visible, literally placing some on pedestals, but also positions them as culturally meaningful by aligning their value with that of classical Greek sculpture — long venerated, even if fractured, for unparalleled perfection.
Author: Claire Voon