In May 2013, the Secret Cinema transformed a 14-storey office block into the dystopian world of Terry Gilliam’s Brazil. Guerilla Science’s Jen Wong tells us what it was like to teach a dozen punters how to stitch and suture pig skin…

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“Welcome!” boomed the grinning figure in a slightly alarming floor-length padded Chinoiserie robe, worn over a deep purple suit. With evident trepidation, G.O.O.D employees who had found themselves designated “medical apprentices” stepped into Plastic Surgery School, and gathered around a collection of shiny, lethal-looking surgical instruments. After a round of introductions, students got to grips with the key tools of plastic surgery, including suction pipes, surgical saws, scalpels, nose chisels, retractors, needle drivers, forceps and of course, sutures.

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With varying degrees of success, students dutifully manipulated their needle drivers and sutures to complete a row of interrupted stitches, all to the backdrop of a rhinoplasty procedure projected onto the wall. The ins and outs of the nose job, meant to give an in-depth view of what this procedure actually involves, generally brought horrified gasps from the students.

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Interrupted by roller-skating singing telegram carriers and the funeral parlour director demanding more bodies from Dr Jaffe, students were introduced to real surgical techniques in the theatrical glory of Secret Cinema’s Paradise Mall – a world of consumerism that offered everything from labiaplasty consultations to a spot of atomic gardening.

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Plastic Surgery School was created by Guerilla Science for the Secret Cinema’s production of the film Brazil in partnership with artist Rhian Solomon from Skinship, in consultation with plastic surgeons Dr Declan Collins, Dr Naveen Cavale and Dr Brian Morgan, archivist at BAPRAS. This project was supported by the Wellcome Trust.

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