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Foresight Council
Mixed media installation, 2022
Commissioned by TAXISPALAIS Kunsthalle Tirol for STORIES OF TIME
Developed in collaboration with the Archive of the World Health Organization (WHO)
Courtesy the artist

The project uses sculpture, sound, photography, and staged documents to visualize the history of the only human viral disease that counts as eradicated.

Smallpox was the first and so far the only virus to be eliminated globally through mass vaccination. Until it was wiped out, it had plagued humanity for thousands of years and its epidemics swept across continents, decimating populations and changing the course of history. Since then, the smallpox campaign has been considered the greatest public health triumph in history and a reminder of what is possible when people come together to fight a common threat.

The project is driven by the need to critically engage histories of transnational cooperation and reflect on their implications for our time. In today’s world, haunted by global catastrophes (climate change, pandemics, nuclear arms), where our very survival hinges on cooperation, where does the vision of the future reside? Is it to be found in abstraction from the past or the actual historical moment?
Connecting past to present, the project points to the diverse ways that ideals of progress, inherent to the narrative of modernity, remain entwined within the asymmetrical assertions of power. Is there a way to salvage its emancipatory potential and reformulate it for the future, and which will be the role of art and more specifically of the exhibition here?

“Here and now, this story not only raises questions as to the connection with the current pandemic, it also displays the ambivalences and effects of an ideology that divides time into three, into past, present and future: The modernist blue, red and yellow structure is revealed as an optical or ideological illusion that cannot be transferred as such to spatiotemporal reality”

– Nina Tabassomi, curator of the exhibition STORIES OF TIME, Taxispalais, 2022