The Romantic Disease exhibition

'The Romantic Disease: An Artistic Investigation of Tuberculosis' is a solo exhibition by artist - and Waag fellow - Anna Dumitriu, supported by the Wellcome Trust. First exhibited in London, it will now be on display in de Waag in Amsterdam.

'The Romantic Disease' will run from 21 June to 27 July (open Thursday to Sunday 11.00 – 17.00). Entrance € 2,-.

'The Romantic Disease' explores the history of tuberculosis (TB) from artistic, social and scientific perspectives and covers subjects such as superstitions about the disease, TB's literary and romantic associations, the development of antibiotics and the latest research into whole-genome sequencing of mycobacteria. Opening on 20 June 2014 at the Theatrum Anatomicum, this exhibition will show installations and sculptures made with stains of mycobacteria, transformed historical artefacts, and textiles that reveal the complexities of the history of tuberculosis and our responses to the disease. Showing 'The Romantic disease' at the Theatrum Anatomicum demonstrates a continuum of the relation between the medical sciences and the arts from the 17th Century until today.

"Where there’s dust there’s danger"
Artworks in the exhibition are made with a combination of textile art and biological matter including strains of Mycobacterium vaccae, M. bovis and M. tuberculosis that have been sterilised prior to exhibition. For example, Dumitriu has developed a series of textile installations stained with bacteria dyes patterned using antibiotic ‘resists’, which focus on how early ‘antibiotics’, such as Prontosil, were derived from chemical dyes. For a piece titled: ‘Where there’s dust there’s danger’ she has created a series of tiny felt lungs from wool and dust, into which she has incorporated the DNA of killed M. tuberculosis made in a Containment Level 3 Laboratory. This piece discusses the erroneous belief that household dust was a major cause of TB.

A Pneumothorax Machine and a Blue Henry
Re-crafted historical artefacts and objects are added to the mix. These include an intricately carved Pneumothorax Machine, previously used to collapse the lungs of unfortunate patients in order to 'give them a rest'. And an antique “pocket bottle for coughers”, called a Blue Henry.

Saturday 21 June Anna Dumitriu will lead a hands-on Do It Together Bio workshop around the theme of the exhibition. The workshop starts at 11.00 and ends at 17.00. Entrance € 30 including materials and lunch. Register here.

The Romantic Disease exhibition at the Theatrum Anatomicum is part of The Future of Art and Science Collaborations program of Waag that is supported by Stichting Doen and the Mondriaan Foundation. The Future of Art and Science Collaborations is a collaboration between The Netherlands Study Centre for Technology Trends, The Royal Academy of Arts, Leiden Institute of Advanced Computer Science, The Arts and Genomics Centre, Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten and Waag.


Waag, Nieuwmarkt 4, 1012 CR Amsterdam