A Choreography of Contagion
In this exhibit, public health and visual arts/performance researchers and practitioners use an interdisciplinary approach to investigate the impacts of how people of African descent have been represented in public health campaigns. Primarily focused through the lens of early 20th century and contemporary social marketing efforts around global epidemics of cholera, chikungunya, Ebola, HIV/AIDS, influenza, malaria, measles, syphilis, and violence, A Choreography of Contagion locates visual media within institutionally supported and coordinated efforts to bring about behavior change. The exhibit embraces visual arts concepts (Composition, iconography), dance concepts (choreography, shapes, spaces) and epidemiological terms (vectors, transmission, distribution) to present a nuanced understanding of how metaphors, images and symbols are artfully used to convey complex meanings in public health campaigns. A Choreography of Contagion critically engages instances when particular black bodies or their avatars have been co-opted as protagonists of disease, or omitted in visual media as opportunities for intervention. The project also draws attention to normative codes that may be embedded within visual media.