Visions of Plague: Photographs of the Third Plague Pandemic

15 February – 2 March 2018

The exhibition extends over all floors of the building.

The third pandemic of plague (in its bubonic and pneumonic clinical forms) struck the globe with devastating results between 1894 and 1959. It was the first time that plague would reach and establish itself in all inhabited continents. It was also the first time that any epidemic would be photographed. As plague spread from harbour to harbour, and amongst cities, towns and villages, so did photographs of the pandemic through reproductions in the daily and illustrated press. The exhibition Visions of Plague showcases for the first time this founding moment in epidemic photography. Showing photographs collected and digitized from across the world by the ERC-funded project Visual Representations of the Third Plague Pandemic, the exhibition takes us from the frozen steppes of Manchuria to San Francisco, Brazil, India and Madagascar, where epidemics of plague challenged colonial and national forms of government, reshaped the urban environment and generated new ways of understanding infectious diseases.

Visual Representations of the Third Plague Pandemic is an ERC project held at the University of St Andrews’ Social Anthropology Department and the University of Cambridge’s CRASSH, and led by medical anthropologist Dr Christos Lynteris. The project and the exhibition is funded by a European Research Council Starting Grant (under the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme/ERC grant agreement no 336564).

The exhibition Visions of Plague: Photographs of the Third Plague Pandemic was realised with the cooperation of the Wellcome Library, the San Francisco Public Library, the Institute of Experimental Medicine, the Hong Kong University Library Special Collections, the Centre for South Asian Studies (Cambridge), the Joseph Needham Research Institute, the New York Academy of Medicine Library, and the Institut Pasteur Archives.

You can follow the project on Twitter @visualplague

PLEASE NOTE: THIS EXHIBITION CONTAINS IMAGES OF A MEDICAL NATURE
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“365 POR LOS 43”

Leaflet Installation
Room 204, Centre of Latin American Studies
Alison Richard Building
24 November – 31 March 2016

This exhibition can be visited by appointment only, please contact Julie Coimbra (jac46@hermes.cam.ac.uk) if you wish to see it.

This installation brings together two poetic, political, and print projects resulting from the recent re-inauguration of La Casa del Hijo del Ahuizote in Mexico City. Today transformed into an exhibition space for the archive of anarchist Ricardo Flores Magón and a print workshop, La Casa del Hijo del Ahuizote was once the editorial office of an iconic satirical magazine from late nineteenth-century Mexico, known for its stand against the Porfirio Díaz dictatorship (1884-1911). Lending continuity to the critical praxis of this much-persecuted publication (whose contributors were often imprisoned and even murdered), today’s La Casa del Hijo del Ahuizote has joined the local and international movement of solidarity with the 43 disappeared students from the teacher-training school “Raúl Isidro Burgos” in Iguala, Guerrero. The photographs on display here have been taken by five photojournalists (Italians Giulia Iacolutti and Valentino Bellini, Mexicans Mauricio Palos and Heriberto Paredes, and Canadian Brett Gundlock) who have closely followed the aftermath of the “Iguala events”. To mark a year after the disappearance of the students, these pictures were reproduced, and then exhibited horizontally for people to take copies, at La Casa del Hijo del Ahuizote using a modern version of the mimeograph, called the Risograph, that allows cheap mass-scale image reproduction. Alongside these photographs, the poetic and textual works exhibited here have resulted from the decontextualized quotation of some of the writings of the original founders of the magazine El Hijo de Ahuizote. In light of the human rights situation in contemporary Mexico, these texts are likely to have deeply unsettling resonances for today’s publics.

Mella Shaw – Force Majeure

15 January – 1 April 2016, ARB atrium
Private View 5 February 2016, 6.00 – 8.00 pm

Force Majeure, French for a superior or irresistible power, is a term used in the writing of legal contracts, to free both parties from obligation in the face of extraordinary natural events or disasters, from war to hurricanes or earthquakes.

The ceramic work Mella Shaw is showing in this exhibition is concerned with moments of transition, tipping points, thresholds and edges. All the work is painstakingly hand-built from small component parts of colourfully stained porcelain. Shaw exploits porcelain’s material quality of pyroplasticity, where the clay body sags, warps or bends in the kiln when fired at high temperature. She is particularly interested in the moment when clay vitrifies into ceramics, where an object loses its order and momentarily gives way to chaos and chance, in the dark behind the closed doors of a kiln. The resulting forms are reminiscent of otherworldly ruins, caught on the verge of collapse.

Mella is Exhibitions Manager at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, a role she combines with her own practice as an artist/maker, and with teaching and writing about ceramics. In 2013 she graduated with Distinction from the MA Ceramics and Glass, Royal College of Art, London, and was profiled in Crafts magazine, Ceramic Review and Axisweb. Residencies include three months at Konstfack in Stockholm, Sweden, and a year as artist-in-residence and tutor at University of the Creative Arts, Farnham. Recent exhibitions include a solo exhibition at Kaolin Gallery, Stockholm, showing at both London and Milan Design Weeks and by Sarah Myerscough Gallery at STRARTA Art Fair, Saatchi Gallery, London. Mella exhibited at the British Ceramics Biennial 2015 as one of 11 artists selected to represent the best of contemporary British ceramics in their centrepiece AWARD show. She has recently been featured in Wallpaper* magazine and on BBC news as well as being selected by Culture24 as one of “10 artists you should be collecting now”.

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