When epidemics break out we experience a fundamental loss of control. From Pandora’s box to the contemporary corona crisis, we have viewed epidemics as unruly, dangerous forces breaking free.For centuries, science has worked to control and curb these forces. By pinpointing causes of diseases, it has tried to attack the epidemic loss of bodily and societal control at the root. In the case of the plague, cholera and tuberculosis, disease was caused by bacteria. In the final part of the 19th century, these and many other bacteria were successfully isolated as causes of particular diseases. On microscope slides, microbes became visible, manageable and real. They were captured in tubes and flasks. The methods we use, however, when epidemics strike are still the simple actions from before the microbes were made visible: Isolating and quarantining diseased bodies, cleaning and airing out.
In a series of photographs of historical objects from the collections of Medical Museion, Nicolai Howalt captures encounters between science and epidemics. The works fix – in the same manner as the blobs of bacteria substrate on the slides – surfaces of contact between disease and science. They unite microbes, history and the scientific attempt to capture epidemics in a set of single images.
You will find the exhibition in the room between our historic pharmacy and the auditorium.
The exhibition is made by
Photographs: Nicolai Howalt / Courtesy Martin Asbæk Gallery
Curating and concept: Karin Tybjerg, Helene Scott-Fordsmand & Kristine Frøsig Moseholm
Object handling: Nanna Gerdes, Line Camilla Forsberg & Maiken Ploug Riisom
Object selection: Ion Meyer
Exhibition production: Niels Christian Bech Vilstrup, Malthe Kouassi Bjerregaard, Nanna Gerdes & Nicolai Howalt
Grafic design: Bente Stensen Christensen & Anne-Sofie Stampe
Producer: Karin Tybjerg
Povl M. Assens Fond
CBMR Novo Nordisk