Opening reception of “The Romantic Disease: An Artistic Investigation of Tuberculosis” – a brand new solo exhibition by Anna Dumitriu showing installations and sculptures made with strains of mycobacteria, transformed historical artefacts, and textiles that our reveal the complexities of Tuberculosis (TB) and our responses to the disease. The show explores the strange history of TB from artistic, social and scientific perspectives and covers subjects such as superstitions about the disease, its literary and romantic associations, the development of antibiotics and the latest research into whole genome sequencing of bacteria.
Artworks in The Romantic Disease” are made with a combination of textile art and biological matter including strains of Mycobacterium vaccae, M. bovis and M. tuberculosis that have been sterilized prior to exhibition. Re-crafted historical artefacts and objects are added to the mix. For example, Dumitriu has developed a series of textile installations stained with bacteria dyes patterned using antibiotic ‘resists’, which focus on how early ‘antibiotics’, such as Prontosil, were derived from chemical dyes. For ”Where there’s dust there’s danger” she has created a series of tiny felt lungs from wool and dust into which she has incorporated the DNA of killed Mycobacterium tuberculosis produced in a Containment Level 3 Laboratory (the highest level for handling bacteria). Around a century ago dust was incorrectly thought to be one of the primary causes of the disease. Amongst the altered historical artefacts an intricately carved and engraved Pneumothorax Machine can be found, previously used to collapse lungs of unfortunate patients ‘to give them a rest’.
The exhibition has been developed through Anna Dumitriu’s ongoing artist’s residency at The University of Oxford with the UK CRC Modernising Medical Microbiology Project, and is funded by The Wellcome Trust.
The show is also open 16th January 2014 – 24th March 2014, daily 12pm (noon) – 9pm
There will also be a major one day symposium on World Tuberculosis Day on 24th March 2014. with key speakers in the field of TB and press conference will be held at Waterman’s for World Tuberculosis Day on 24th March. The latest research into this disease, which currently affects one third of the World’s population, will be discussed in a highly accessible way.
As well as the exhibition and symposium, The Romantic Disease has an ‘open lab’ workshop with Anna Dumitriu, Dr Simon Park, Dr Melissa Grant and special guests. This will run on five Saturdays, 11am – 5pm, on 15th and 22nd February, 1st, 15th and 22nd March 2014 and visitors on those days will see the group at work in the gallery.
To attend the open lab see www.openlabworkshop.eventb
Watermans, 40 High Street, Brentford, West London, UK, TW8 0DS