Inner Portraits I and II, VestAndPage 2019. CT thorax scans of pulmonary tuberculosis.

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1 9 Monologue – Letters from Isolation

While many in Europe consider it to be long since eradicated, it still presents the deadliest pandemic worldwide. In the Romantic period, it was epitome of muse and poetry and a popular motif in painting, literature and music. As the "firstborn of the mother of pestilence and disease" it has accompanied the primate human through the eras since time immemorial. Today it is a curable disease, and yet still more than one million people worldwide fall victim to it every year*. Its social perception has changed fundamentally over the course of the epochs: from the glorified malaise of the romantic Bohemian poets, through the painful proletarian death during industrial revolution, to the antisocial illness of the lepers during National Socialism. Today it is considered the disease of the marginalized, the dependent and the destitute, hardly noticed by the common public. The talk is of tuberculosis. In July 2019, atypically, the young German artist Verena Stenke was diagnosed with pulmonary tuberculosis. Her own experience of being as a body home to pathogens, flows into this autobiographical performance text, while building a bridge between precise self-observation and a global, historical and literary outside.


Now that my wings are pierced
like by moths
by what they call:
the firstborn of the mother
of pestilence and disease,
by what I call:
a contagion from the margins,
I feel
dematerialization.
The tissue matter they have consumed
will never return.
Where did it go?

 

As part of the ongoing cycle HOME by VestAndPage

"Consumption remains a 'social disease', it has become a 'disease of the marginalised'. This makes it rather unlikely that consumption will once again become a literary or artistic subject."

Ulrike Moser, Schwindsucht - Eine andere deutsche Gesellschaftsgeschichte

* WHO World Health Organization Fact Sheet 2019 (as of October 2020)

As part of

TAMEIH – Eine Untersuchung über das Zuhause

supported by Fonds Darstellende Künste

with funds from the

Federal Government Commissioner

for Culture and the Media

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