The Doctor Is In
Last Friday night, I got a late start getting out of the house because I got carried away with DJing in my bedroom. I had planned to go to the Moiliili Summer Fest bon dance for dinner and then head to Chinatown, but found myself rushing to make it to AJ and Ara Feducia’s The Doctor Is In at Hound & Quail before closing.
Hound & Quail is a storefront filled with vintage science and medical equipment, skeletal structures, taxidermy and various other oddities. It could just as easily be a museum, if instead of price tags there were placards. While that aesthetic could be thought of as creepy or disturbing, Hound & Quail has managed to present it as something refined and distinguished. It’s unique to see such tools displayed as modern home décor rather than props for a horror film hidden in a dark basement. But there’s a basement here, too — a gallery where the shop hosts events. During events, the owners generously open the store up as a lounge where people can imbibe and mingle.
For The Doctor Is In, the basement had been converted into a pseudo-medical clinic. I arrived late, but they said they would try to squeeze me in if I would just have a seat in the waiting room and fill out some forms. The questionnaire from Dr. S. I. Koh MD. ADD. asked me the basics — name, address, marital status and employment — but then also asked me to describe what memory had made a lasting impression on me that day. It then asked me to assign a color to my mood, whether I prefer The Beatles, The Doors or The Rolling Stones as well as my pet preference and how many hours a day I spend online. The possible symptoms included a checklist of unappealing personality traits and a follow-up asked which positive personality traits I would like to enhance.
When I saw the doctor, he seemed aloof, scribbling notes that didn’t seem to address what I was saying, although he asked me not to look. In the end, I was prescribed a beautiful-smelling celosia oil that I was to apply once daily.
This recreational doctor visit highlighted many of the inadequacies of the brevity and impersonal nature of a medical interview, and the seemingly arbitrary nature of the final prescription. The interview, although impersonal, sought to empower the patient into making tangible improvements to his or her character and mirrored the desire that doctors have to cure illnesses.
As a medical student, I initially was worried that it would be an anti-medical piece mocking the profession, but it was much more balanced, subtle, playful and exploratory. As an art installation, it provided one of the most interactive and engaging experiences that I have witnessed, because it was rooted in familiarity. As for the visit itself, it left very much open to the patient with moments of humor, frustration and insult, but with an overall charming effect. I left feeling optimistic that I would be able to accomplish my six-week goals of studying, skating, playing music, cleaning and telling people thanks.
The closing show is July 24 for followup visits, second opinions and walk-ins.