Operation Mango

Operation Mango

17 May 2022

Led by:

  • Anna Harris
  • Kaisu Koski – a cross-disciplinary artist and humanities scholar with a background in performance and screen-based media. She is and Associate Professor of Art and Design at Sheffield Hallam University. Kaisu’s work explores climate crisis, human-nonhuman relationships, and empathy. She has conducted research fellowships in various medical schools and created films for medical curricula. Her work has been exhibited and performed in multiple gallery shows and theatres and received awards in the film festival circuit.
  • Bart Schrier – studied medicine in Groningen. After his military service he started training as a urologist at the Isala clinics in Zwolle and the Radboud Umc in Nijmegen and studied surgery for two years at the Canisius Wilhelmina Hospital in Nijmegen. After graduating, he went to work at the Jeroen Bosch Hospital in ‘s-Hertogenbosch. He holds a PhD in bladder cancer and has been named best urologist in the Netherlands several times. He now provides national and international operation training and guides medical specialists during robot operations.
Intended learning outcomes (more on programme level):

Part of Marres’ Workshops ‘Training the Senses’. https://marres.org/en/program/training-the-senses-en/

Learning objectives (course specific):

You will gain insight into a series of surgical practices by using fruits to simulate surgeries as well as learn how these procedures are carried out from start to finish using surgical tools such as scalpels.

Objective statement:

Today, medical students practice their dissecting, stitching and carving skills on highly advanced materials and protheses. In the past, they had to work with simpler materials. In this context, fruit was both practically and metaphorically essential: oranges were used to learn how to inject, and a peach served as a children’s skin.

In the workshop Operation Mango, you will pick up the scalpel yourself and get started with these materials and techniques. Under the guidance of physician-anthropologist Anna Harris, surgeon Bart Schrier and artist Kaisu Koski, you will gain insight into a series of surgical practices. In turn, by attending closely to the fruit’s sensory qualities, we may discover comparative vocabularies that doctors might never have thought of before. A first-aid kit is provided!

Type of course:

extracurricular course

Target group:

general audience

Teaching method:




  • General introduction to anthropology, surgical work and the presentation of what will be done during the training. The tools are introduced as well.


  • The participants are divided into two groups. The first group does the “surgery” while the second group observes and takes notes. Afterwards the two groups switch places.
  • The first “patient” is Mr Banana, who has a clove stuck in its skin. The mission is to cut an incision, a 3 to 1 ratio of width and length, and take out the cover. The participants are told of the preparation procedure before the surgery – the two-glove rule (wear two different coloured gloves over each other so if there’s a tear in the top glove it’s immediately visible), the sanitation of hands, not touching anything but the patient and tools, putting on the sheet around the wound. Sanitize the wound on the banana, apply anaesthesia around the wound with a syringe, then make the incision with a scalpel; use special tweezers to remove the cut away skin and clover attached to it.
  • The second patient is an Orange. Oranges were used by doctors to practice seeing how far a woman’s vagina is dilated during labour. Here the participants were directed to do a biopsy with a biopsy punch – a round knife that you twist into the skin, and it takes a cutting of the flesh.

Concepts discussed:

  • What was it like wearing gloves and working with the instruments? The feel of the tools was dulled by gloves, so you focus more on the tools and the job than the textures.
  • Intuitive cutting ? How deep do you go? This is intensely trained in new doctors.
  • Every tissue of skin has a different sound, and once trained enough, the doctor can hear what they cut.
  • You can practice stitching on plastic or a piece of meat.
  • What do you do before cutting? Visualize everything, every step of the operation.
  • Converse with the patient before they go under anaesthesia – tell them how things will go. Communication is important.
Assessment of learning:




Additional biblio sources (available at Marres):