A solo exhibition by Anna Dumitriu, ‘The Romantic Disease: An Investigation of Tuberculosis’, 15 January – 24 March 2014 at the Watermans Art Centre, London takes the form of an integrative art/science examination which explores the world’s largest infectious killer.
The ground breaking bio-artist is best known for creating textile art with and about bacteria. Her ‘MRSA Quilt’ used the superbug for decorative means and in 2011 she was Artist in Residence at The University of Oxford’s UK Clinical Research Consortium Project Modernising Medical Microbiology.
Culminating with a multidisciplinary symposium on World TB day on 24 March, the show explores the strange history of the disease and our scientific and artistic responses to it. Drawing on the 1902 superstition that ‘where there’s dust there’s danger’ Dumitriu has created many small felt lungs incorporating dust and the DNA of killed Mycobacterium tuberculosis within them.
Other works include a series of textile installations stained with bacteria dyes patterned using antibiotic ‘resists’, which focus on early ‘antibiotics’ derived from chemical dyes.
A Pneumothorax Machine is one of the altered historical artifacts on show, a contraption that had the ghoulish purpose of collapsing unfortunate patient’s lungs in order to ‘give them a rest’.
The exhibition has been funded by the Wellcome Trust, a global charitable foundation dedicated to achieving extraordinary improvements in human and animal health through public engagement, education and the application of research.