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AboutFace Participates in the Being Human Festival

Posted on 23 October 2020

AboutFace, led by CGHH co-director Fay Bound Alberti, will host four events during the Being Human Festival, the UK's national festival of the humanities.

The theme for this year’s Being Human Festival is ‘New Worlds,’ making it the perfect home for the AboutFace team’s four events on face transplantation, appearance, identity and emotion. Each event connects with a different aspect of the project, collectively aiming to inform a wider audience about what is involved in a face transplant, and how this medical intervention connects with emotions, identity and cultural ideals surrounding beauty. The Festival runs from 12-22 November, during which time the AboutFace team will premiere two videos that bridge the perceived gap between art and science, and will share a series of short videos tackling questions about faces, appearance and identity. The events culminate on 20 November, with a webinar conversation and live Q&A with five fascinating panelists, titled What’s in a Face?

The flagship event, What’s in a Face, is a lively panel conversation, where you’ll hear different perspectives on face transplants and their emotional and cultural impacts. Led by surgical educator Roger Kneebone, the panel discussion will also explore what our opinions about views on face transplants might tell us about current beauty standards, face equality, and self-representation in the age of the selfie. Roger’s guests include surgeon Dan Saleh, actor Adam Pearson, motivational speaker Tulsi Vagjiani, and sculptor Eleanor Crook. Over the course of 90 minutes, you will explore themes of appearance and transplantation, and will have the opportunity to ask questions during a live Q&A.

This event will be held online via Zoom, is free to attend but registration is required. This event contains images of artistic interpretations of facial injury, which some viewers may find challenging. It is suitable for all ages, but is aimed at audiences of 18 and above.

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‘(Re)Framing the Face’ is a short film exploring the connections between hands, faces, and facial surgery. Inspired by the descriptions process of facial surgery described by a maxillofacial surgeon, artist Clare Whistler has produced a performance interpreting the dextrous movements and actions involved in a face transplant operation. This short film invites you to explore your own emotional responses to the physical and psychological processes of surgery, and the physical skills involved in a highly complex form of surgical innovation.

This event contains no graphic images so is suitable for all ages, but is aimed at audiences of 18 and above. The video will be freely available on the AboutFace website throughout the Being Human Festival.

‘Future Faces’ is an interactive social media event, where the AboutFace team invite you to join the conversation. Learn more and explore your questions about donation and surgery. Join them on Twitter and Instagram throughout the Being Human Festival, 12-22 November, to talk about face transplants, appearance, and identity. Follow along at @AboutFaceYork to learn more and explore your questions about donation and surgery. Each day the team will premiere a video of one of their collaborators speaking about their faces, face transplants, and what their appearance means to them. You can comment, ask questions, and learn something new, and tell them what you think! You are invited to join in – why not make your own video and tag them?

This event contains no graphic images so is suitable for all ages, but is aimed at audiences of 18 and above. You can view all of the videos on the AboutFace Twitter and Instagram feeds during the Festival by following @AboutFaceYork.

‘From Hand to Face’ is a timelapse film of the production of an original artwork by Lucy Burscough, and featuring double hand transplant recipient, Corinne Hutton. During this film you will explore ideas about donation and transplant, thinking about the connections between hands and faces. How similar are they? We use both to communicate, to convey emotion, and they are closely connected with our identities. They may also present similar surgical challenges, but are the personal issues the same?

This event contains no graphic images so is suitable for all ages, but is aimed at audiences of 18 and above. The video will be available to view on the AboutFace website throughout the Being Human Festival, 12-22 November.


AboutFace is led by CGHH co-Director Fay Bound Alberti and is funded by a UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship. AboutFace explores the cultural and emotional history of face transplants and facial difference.