This book tells the story of the groundbreaking exhibition "The Romantic Disease" by artist Anna Dumitriu, which takes the form of an artistic investigation into mankind’s strange relationship with the so-called ‘Romantic Disease’ Tuberculosis (TB) from early superstitions about the disease, through the development of antibiotics, to the latest research into whole genome sequencing of bacteria. Through juxtapositions between historical artefacts and stories woven by the artist around our changing beliefs, it throws our idea of knowledge into question. Tuberculosis has been strongly linked to creativity due to its long association with art, literature and the Romantic Movement. It has even been linked to fashion and Lord Byron famously declared: “How pale I look! – I should like, I think, to die of a consumption ... because then the women would all say, ‘see that poor Byron – how interesting he looks in dying!’” The fight against TB is strongly linked to the science of microbiology and the development of antibiotics and vaccines. Even today the latest developments in whole genome sequencing of bacteria are focussed on understanding the disease better.
Anna Dumitriu’s work is at the forefront of art and science collaborative practice, with a strong interest in the ethical issues raised by emerging technologies. Her installations, interventions and performances use a range of biological, digital, and traditional media including live bacteria. She has a strong international exhibition profile, having exhibited at The Science Gallery in Dublin, The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) Taipei, and The V & A Museum in London. She is collaborating as a Visiting Research Fellow: Artist in Residence with the Department of Computer Science at The University of Hertfordshire and Artist in Residence on the UK Clinical Research Consortium Project “Modernising Medical Microbiology” at The University of Oxford. She was winner of the 2012 Society for Applied Microbiology Communication Award and her major new Wellcome Trust supported exhibition “The Romantic Disease: An Artistic Investigation of Tuberculosis opened in London in January 2014.
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