Germ City

We pre­viewed the Germ City: Mi­crobes and the Metropo­lis ex­hibit at the Mu­seum of the City of New York this month to un­der­stand the com­plex­ity of New York’s bat­tle against in­fec­tious dis­eases.

Athleisure - - Contents -

We at­tended an ex­hibit pre­view of Germ City: Mi­crobes and the Metropo­lis at the Mu­seum of the City of New York this month to ex­plore and re­flect upon the com­plex story of New York’s long bat­tle against in­fec­tious dis­ease—a fight in­volv­ing gov­ern­ment, ur­ban plan­ners, med­i­cal pro­fes­sion­als, busi­nesses, and ac­tivists. It re­veals how our un­der­stand­ing of dis­ease has changed us phys­i­cally, so­cially, and cul­tur­ally, and the sur­pris­ing in­ter­play be­tween peo­ple and pathogens in an ur­ban con­text.

The ex­hi­bi­tion is or­ga­nized by the Mu­seum of the City of New York in col­lab­o­ra­tion with The New York Academy of Medicine and Well­come. It is part of Well­come’s in­ter­na­tional pro­ject Con­ta­gious Cities, which ex­plores the in­ter­play of peo­ple and pathogens in ur­ban con­texts. Draw­ing on the model of the Well­come Col­lec­tion’s “Read­ing Room,” Germ City fea­tures a hy­brid gallery and li­brary where vis­i­tors can view his­tor­i­cal ar­ti­facts along­side con­tem­po­rary art­works cre­ated for the ex­hi­bi­tion, delve into the ex­hi­bi­tion’s themes with a cu­rated se­lec­tion of books, and ac­cess a wide range of per­spec­tives through dig­i­tal in­ter­ac­tives.

Con­ta­gious Cities is an in­ter­na­tional pro­ject de­vel­oped by Well­come, which sup­ports lo­cal con­ver­sa­tions around the global chal­lenges of epi­demic pre­pared­ness and mark­ing the cen­te­nary of the 1918 flu pan­demic, dur­ing which a third of the world’s pop­u­la­tion was in­fected and 50 mil­lion peo­ple died. Cities bring peo­ple and germs to­gether. Through the sto­ries it tells, Con­ta­gious Cities ex­plores the out­comes of this co­hab­i­ta­tion, and the re­la­tion­ship be­tween mi­crobes, mi­gra­tion and the metropo­lis. Com­bin­ing dif­fer­ent per­spec­tives and ex­per­tise, part­ners in the pro­ject are co-pro­duc­ing artist res­i­den­cies, ex­hi­bi­tions, in­ter­ac­tive ex­pe­ri­ences, events and broad­casts. To­gether, they are in­ves­ti­gat­ing the phys­i­cal, so­cial, eco­nomic and cul­tural ef­fects of in­fec­tious dis­ease.

“Mi­crobes don't nec­es­sar­ily first come to mind as in­tu­itive ter­ri­tory for a cul­tural ex­hi­bi­tion, but Germ City uses sci­en­tific mod­els, his­tor­i­cal ob­jects, and con­tem­po­rary art­works to make the very per­sonal sto­ries of New York­ers who have been im­pacted by con­ta­gious dis­ease over time come alive,” said Anne Garner, Cu­ra­tor of Rare Books and Manuscripts at The New York Academy of Medicine Li­brary, and co-cu­ra­tor of Germ City. “Ev­ery­one can re­late to what it's like to feel afraid or un­cer­tain about ill­ness, and/or com­forted by care­givers, and we hope the show will pro­voke new con­ver­sa­tions about re­sponses to epi­demic dis­ease." “The Academy is pleased to part­ner with our neigh­bor The Mu­seum of the City of New York and with the Well­come Trust on this im­por­tant ex­hi­bi­tion and pro­gram se­ries,” said Ju­dith A. Salerno, MD, MS, Pres­i­dent of The New York Academy of Medicine. “This ef­fort brings to­gether our col­lec­tive ex­per­tise on the his­tory of health in New York and the im­pact that out­breaks of dis­ease over time have had on New York City’s res­i­dents, in­fra­struc­ture, and its many in­ter­lock­ing sys­tems in­clud­ing hous­ing, ur­ban plan­ning, wa­ter sys­tems, mi­gra­tion, and pub­lic health poli­cies.”

Re­becca Hayes Ja­cobs, An­drew W. Mel­lon, Post-Doc­toral Cul­tural Fel­low, with the Mu­seum of the City of New York, added, “we were in­ter­ested in bring­ing to­gether his­tor­i­cal ar­ti­facts, sci­en­tific mod­els and con­tem­po­rary art to try to ad­dress this topic of in­fec­tious dis­ease, and or­ga­nized it the­mat­i­cally about re­sponses to dis­ease. It shows ar­ti­facts and art­work about con­tain­ment, in­ves­ti­ga­tion, care and stop­ping dis­ease in the ur­ban en­vi­ron­ment. And so we se­lected ob­jects that might be visu­ally in­ter­est­ing, thought pro­vok­ing, and might sur­prise peo­ple and make them think and also bring up the so­cial mean­ing of con­ta­gion. It is about the cul­tural side. It's a topic that is un­der­ap­pre­ci­ated, in­fec­tious dis­ease might sound scary and in­tim­i­dat­ing, but any­one can learn more if they’re in­ter­ested. We have a whole in­ter­ac­tive space in the read­ing room, where peo­ple can learn per­sonal sto­ries, so hope­fully it is a very ac­ces­si­ble ex­hi­bi­tion for just about any­one.”

Af­ter tour­ing the ex­hibit and lis­ten­ing to open­ing re­marks, we spoke with Seema Ku­mar, VP of In­no­va­tion, Global Health and Pol­icy Com­mu­ni­ca­tion, John­son & John­son, a spon­sor of the ex­hibit.

ATH­LEISURE MAG: Can you tell us about J&J's role and work in this field?

SEEMA KU­MAR: J&J has a re­ally su­perb global foot­print in terms of mul­ti­ple dis­ease and ther­a­peu­tic ar­eas.

Spe­cific to this topic, in the global pub­lic health and in­fec­tious dis­eases and vac­cines arena, we've got a long tra­di­tion in work­ing in HIV, in TB, and many other dis­eases, like Zika and Ebola. We have a vac­cines plat­form, where we are in the process of de­vel­op­ing vac­cines for Zika; we have ac­tu­ally 2M doses of an Ebola vac­cine ready to de­ploy any­time there is a cri­sis - and those we de­vel­oped and ac­cel­er­ated when there was a big Ebola cri­sis in 2015. We also have a vac­cine for HIV, which is in clin­i­cal tri­als in South Africa. It's go­ing to be tested in 2600 young girls and women in Sub-Sa­ha­ran Africa, keep­ing fin­gers-crossed. In TB, we brought for­ward the first new mech­a­nism of ac­tion in 40 years, there was a new com­pound and new break though and that works against multi-drug re­sis­tant TB (MDR-TB). So for those when all hope is gone and near deathbed when re­sis­tant to all of the ex­ist­ing treat­ments, this par­tic­u­lar medicine helps. Es­pe­cially in South Africa, we have a won­der­ful col­lab­o­ra­tion with the gov­ern­ment through clin­i­cal tri­als and also ac­cess pro­grams, where we made our com­pound avail­able for use and the trans­for­ma­tion that has taken place in those pa­tients is just ex­tra­or­di­nary in terms of chang­ing the tra­jec­tory of the mor­tal­ity rates of MDR-TB, so much so that the South African gov­ern­ment made a coura­geous move to put this medicine as part of its drug reg­i­men against MDR-TB. So we have a huge foot­print, and then in HIV we have three prod­ucts which treat HIV, but in ad­di­tion to that we have a long-act­ing in­jectable, we're work­ing to­gether with GSK ViiV.

We've went from mul­ti­ple pills that HIV pa­tients have to take ev­ery­day to one pill, and now we're try­ing to make a long-act­ing in­jectable that can keep the virus in check for longer pe­ri­ods of time, and a vac­cine to ul­ti­mately pre­vent it. We also do a lot of ed­u­ca­tion and health­care sys­tems strength­en­ing, all of that be­cause it's not just the in­no­va­tion, but strength­en­ing the health­care sys­tem.

AM: We love what you said about sto­ry­telling in the open­ing re­marks. Can you please ex­pand upon that?

SK: We have a cam­paign go­ing on called Cham­pi­ons of Science, and want to make peo­ple un­der­stand that science and tech­nol­ogy are re­ally im­por­tant for us in health­care and many other things, like food, fuel and en­ergy.. With the Africa sto­ry­telling chal­lenge, there is a lot of science, tech­nol­ogy and en­trepreneur­ship go­ing on there. Many peo­ple just think of dis­ease and poverty, so we need to tell the pos­i­tive sto­ries. Win­ners will be fea­tured on the plat­form and phase two will start.

Science can seem so com­plex to peo­ple, it sort of hap­pens be­hind the lab and seems mys­te­ri­ous, so one of things that sto­ry­telling does is it re­ally makes the com­plex sim­ple, it makes it hu­man, and it con­nects - facts and fig­ures are great be­cause they are needed for cred­i­bil­ity and ac­cu­racy, but charts, graphs and num­bers do not en­gage the heart. What en­gages the heart is re­ally sto­ry­telling. There is a tra­di­tion of sto­ry­telling in all of our cul­tures, be­cause that's how you've learned your value sys­tems and in­for­ma­tion, when not even know­ing you're be­ing ed­u­cated be­cause you're lis­ten­ing to the story, but some­how it wires your brain with a lot of in­for­ma­tion. So sto­ry­telling is ex­traor­di­nar­ily im­por­tant in en­gag­ing peo­ple. Not even just the pub­lic, any­body can re­act to a story, so I think it is an im­por­tant part of pub­lic en­gage­ment. A bit be­fore this pre­view, Jim Al­li­son, Ph.D, Chair of the Depart­ment of Im­munol­ogy, MD An­der­son Cen­ter, won the Dr. Paul Janssen Award for ground­break­ing work with Check­point In­hibitors, where the im­mune sys­tem is be­ing used as a way to try at­tack cancer. Now im­munother­apy is be­com­ing a big break­through way to at­tack cancer. This gen­tle­man has fig­ured out, just like a gas pedal and a break, there is a break in the im­mune sys­tem and that break pre­vents the im­mune sys­tem from go­ing af­ter a cancer, and if you can re­lease that break, the im­mune sys­tem can go and at­tack the cancer. We have heard sto­ries about women with tu­mors all over their bod­ies, and the tu­mors can shrink af­ter the first treat­ment and go away, and one woman fea­tured has been liv­ing for over ten years. This is about turn­ing on the switch of check­point in­hibitors to go at­tack the cancer in cancer im­munother­apy.

The Cham­pi­ons of Science – Africa Sto­ry­telling Chal­lenge aims to un­earth the in­spi­ra­tional sto­ries of African in­no­va­tors, and in­vites sci­en­tists do­ing work on the African con­ti­nent to come for­ward and share their sto­ries. "A tremen­dous amount of science is tak­ing place across Africa, with re­searchers and in­no­va­tors de­vel­op­ing so­lu­tions that can have a sig­nif­i­cant im­pact on so­ci­ety," said Seema Ku­mar, Vice Pres­i­dent, In­no­va­tion, Global Health and Science Pol­icy Com­mu­ni­ca­tion, John­son & John­son. "By am­pli­fy­ing the sto­ries of in­no­va­tion tak­ing place across Africa and the im­pact it is hav­ing on fam­i­lies, com­mu­ni­ties and the world, we hope to build pub­lic en­gage­ment and sup­port for science, and in­spire the next gen­er­a­tion to pur­sue sci­en­tific fields that will have the po­ten­tial to drive Africa's so­cio-eco­nomic trans­for­ma­tion."

We also spoke with Ken Arnold, Cre­ative Direc­tor, and Si­mon Chap­lin, Direc­tor of Cul­ture and So­ci­ety, at Well­come Trust. The Well­come Trust is a

bio­med­i­cal re­search char­ity based in Lon­don, United King­dom. It was estab­lished in 1936 with lega­cies from the phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal mag­nate Sir Henry Well­come to fund re­search to im­prove hu­man and an­i­mal health. The aim of the Trust is to "achieve ex­tra­or­di­nary im­prove­ments in health by sup­port­ing the bright­est minds", and in ad­di­tion to fund­ing bio­med­i­cal re­search it sup­ports the pub­lic un­der­stand­ing of science.

AM: Please tell us about Well­come and the Germ City: Mi­crobes and the Metropo­lis ex­hi­bi­tion.

KEN ARNOLD: Well­come has been de­lighted to col­lab­o­rate with col­leagues at MCNY to co-pro­duce the ex­hi­bi­tion Germ City, and fur­ther to work in close col­lab­o­ra­tion with their next-door-neigh­bours the New York Academy of Medicine. The show ex­plores how New York has shaped – and been shaped by – the fight against con­ta­gious dis­eases such as cholera, and TB. Through a range of in­trigu­ing his­tor­i­cal ob­jects, pow­er­ful con­tem­po­rary art com­mis­sions and in­ter­ac­tive fea­tures, the ex­hi­bi­tion teases out the per­sonal, cul­tural, po­lit­i­cal and med­i­cal di­men­sions of con­ta­gion in this truly global city.

SI­MON CHAP­LIN: The show tells sto­ries about health and ill­ness, im­mune sys­tems and an­tibi­otics, break­throughs in treat­ments and vac­ci­na­tions; and on a more gran­u­lar in­di­vid­ual scale, sto­ries of the lives and strug­gles of or­di­nary New York­ers. But it’s just as much about the struc­ture of ur­ban life: hous­ing, wa­ter sys­tems, san­i­ta­tion, and in­di­vid­ual and col­lec­tive rights. In­evitably, it also touches on is­sues of so­cial in­jus­tice and con­flict.

AM: What other ex­hi­bi­tions and projects are part of Well­come's Con­ta­gious Cities in­ter­na­tional pro­ject?

KA: Germ City is the first ex­hi­bi­tion in Well­come’s am­bi­tiously broad in­ter­na­tional Con­ta­gious Cities ini­tia­tive. Timed to co­in­cide with the cen­te­nary of the 1918/19 in­fluenza pan­demic, Con­ta­gious Cities is a cul­tural pro­ject that spans Geneva, Hong Kong and New York. Each has its own fas­ci­nat­ing, of­ten tragic, but also some­times hope­ful set of dis­ease sto­ries to share. With the World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion head­quar­tered there, Geneva is ar­guably the city in the world where most thought is given to con­ta­gion and epi­demics. Con­ta­gious cities com­mis­sioned WHO’s first artists in res­i­dence. While Hong Kong is per­haps the world’s most con­nected city, with a vi­brant his­tory as a hub of in­ter­na­tional travel, but also of con­ta­gious dis­eases. A ma­jor part of the pro­ject there will be an art-led ex­hi­bi­tion at Tai Kwun, Hong Kong’s brand-new cen­tre for her­itage and arts.

AM: What are some of the up­com­ing fea­tured artist res­i­den­cies, broad­casts, events and in­ter­ac­tive sto­ry­telling ex­pe­ri­ences?

KA: Across New York ‘Con­ta­gious Cities’ fea­tures ex­hi­bi­tions, artist res­i­den­cies, broad­casts, events and in­ter­ac­tive sto­ry­telling ex­pe­ri­ences. The Ten­e­ment Mu­seum will host a se­ries of spe­cial tours of its his­toric Lower East Side build­ings fo­cused on for­mer res­i­dents’ tales of dis­ease, medicine, im­mi­gra­tion and re­form; while WNYC have drawn on their ar­chives and news­room to of­fer a se­ries of nar­ra­tives chron­i­cling the re­la­tion­ship be­tween cities and con­ta­gious dis­ease. Other ac­tiv­i­ties are based at the New York Pub­lic Li­brary, CUNY’s Grad­u­ate School and the Brook­lyn His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety.

AM: What some key take­aways you hope at­ten­dees have when ex­plor­ing Germ City: Mi­crobes and Metropo­lis and the Con­ta­gious Cities se­ries?

SC: We want to raise aware­ness of how much germs are a part of all our lives: the rea­son we wash our hands and cover our mouths when we sneeze. They are a ma­jor, if mi­cro­scopic, fea­ture of our ur­ban en­vi­ron­ment; and in caus­ing dis­eases they have brought tragedy, fear, sus­pi­cion and de­struc­tion to ur­ban en­vi­ron­ments. But in deal­ing with them, cities have also wit­nessed acts of com­pas­sion and imag­i­na­tion and glob­ally sig­nif­i­cant learned lessons. We want peo­ple to find out and

think about that bal­ance and ten­sion; to com­pre­hend some of the fas­ci­nat­ing con­se­quences of those his­to­ries, as well as un­der­stand and be part of col­lec­tive at­tempts to avoid po­ten­tial dis­ease out­breaks in the fu­ture.

AM: What are some high­lights of his­tor­i­cal sig­nif­i­cance in NYC's bat­tle with in­fec­tious dis­ease?

KA: IN­FLUENZA - The most deadly flu episode came to New York 100 years ago, in the af­ter­math of World War I. The global pan­demic of 1918–19 killed an es­ti­mated 50–100 mil­lion peo­ple (more than the en­tire com­bat death toll of the war). Although over 30,000 New York City res­i­dents died, the city’s death rate was ac­tu­ally much lower than other large US cities, in part due to decades of work to im­prove san­i­ta­tion and hous­ing con­di­tions by the

New York City Depart­ment of Health.

“TY­PHOID MARY” - Per­haps his­tory’s most fa­mous case of forced iso­la­tion of a dis­ease car­rier was that of Mary Mal­lon (1869–1938), who spent the last 23 years of her life held against her will on North Brother Is­land in the East River. She had spread ty­phoid to the many fam­i­lies and other clients for whom she worked as a cook, but never fell ill her­self. She was out­raged at her con­fine­ment and re­fused to be­lieve that she was in­fected.

TB CARE - Tu­ber­cu­lo­sis played a par­tic­u­larly per­ni­cious and tena­cious role in the ur­ban land­scape. Ten­e­ments were ideal en­vi­ron­ments for the dis­ease, which thrived in un­ven­ti­lated rooms and among those whose im­mune sys­tems were com­pro­mised by mal­nour­ish­ment and poor hy­giene. TB killed more New York­ers in

the 19th cen­tury than any other con­ta­gion.

AM: How pow­er­ful is sto­ry­telling at ex­hi­bi­tions and events to ad­vo­cate and pro­mote change?

SC: It can be an ex­traor­di­nar­ily po­tent as­pect of ex­hi­bi­tions and events, es­pe­cially in the way it brings per­sonal lived ex­pe­ri­ences into the con­text of top­ics that may oth­er­wise seem chal­leng­ing, com­pli­cated and un­re­lat­ably large. Nar­ra­tives can re­mind us that shared hu­man in­stincts reach across time al­low­ing us to em­pathise with his­tor­i­cal fig­ures; but also to show how rich and var­ied hu­man ex­pe­ri­ence is - that our per­spec­tives are not nec­es­sar­ily shared by oth­ers. Less fo­cused on the idea of pro­mot­ing spe­cific changes, sto­ry­telling does pro­vide a pow­er­ful plat­form to make peo­ple think openly and dif­fer­ently about big top­ics such as epi­demic pre­pared­ness and why they should care about it.

AM: What are some in­sights into your cre­ative process for de­sign­ing ex­hibits, as well as across global show se­ries?

KA: ‘Con­ta­gious Cities’ is a pro­foundly trans­dis­ci­plinary pro­ject: it brings to­gether in­sights and per­spec­tives from science and cul­ture; from his­tor­i­cal in­ves­ti­ga­tion and per­sonal re­flec­tion. It’s a vig­or­ous at­tempt to make bold links be­tween medicine, life and art.

SC: It is also a pro­ject founded on the prin­ci­ples of co-pro­duc­tion. It wouldn’t hap­pen with­out Well­come’s core role; but is equally in­con­ceiv­able with­out our in­spir­ing part­ners in each of these cities. We work like this be­cause we be­lieve more ex­cit­ing pub­lic shows can be the re­sult, and be­cause we be­lieve we can all learn much by work­ing col­lab­o­ra­tively.

Con­ta­gious Cities also aims to make the most of Well­come’s in­ter­na­tional reach; it is based on our com­mit­ment to the value of sup­port­ing lo­cally

grounded con­ver­sa­tions around global chal­lenges, in this case epi­demic pre­pared­ness.

AM: Please tell us more about Well­come and some of its global health ini­tia­tives. How does it ad­vance ideas, seize op­por­tu­nity and drive re­form?

SC: Well­come ex­ists to im­prove health for ev­ery­one by help­ing great ideas to thrive. We’re a global char­i­ta­ble foun­da­tion, both po­lit­i­cally and fi­nan­cially in­de­pen­dent. And we sup­port sci­en­tists and re­searchers, take on big prob­lems, fuel imag­i­na­tions, and spark de­bate. Our fund­ing helps 14,000 cu­ri­ous peo­ple in more than 70 coun­tries to ex­plore ideas in science, pop­u­la­tion health, med­i­cal in­no­va­tion, the hu­man­i­ties and so­cial sciences and pub­lic en­gage­ment.

We are a well-re­sourced and rel­a­tively in­de­pen­dent or­ga­ni­za­tion that, we be­lieve, that can make tan­gi­ble dif­fer­ences. We aim to stim­u­late re­search ex­cel­lence and de­velop global col­lab­o­ra­tions to drive change. If we're suc­cess­ful, the re­search we fund will pro­vide strong ev­i­dence for ac­tion, which will lead pol­i­cy­mak­ers, busi­nesses and the pub­lic to make more in­formed de­ci­sions on things that af­fect the en­vi­ron­ment and health.

KA: Well­come is also help­ing change the way we think about medicine and its place in so­ci­ety and cul­ture. Through our free mu­seum and li­brary (Well­come Col­lec­tion), we seek to chal­lenge how we all think and feel about health. We put on ex­hi­bi­tions, cu­rate col­lec­tions, pro­duce live and dig­i­tal pro­gram­ming, broad­casts and pub­li­ca­tions to cre­ate op­por­tu­ni­ties for peo­ple to think deeply about the con­nec­tions be­tween science, medicine, life and art. Projects like Con­ta­gious Cities take our ex­cite­ment around this ap­proach to the cul­ture of medicine to new au­di­ences in parts of the world im­por­tant to us, but where we are less well known. We also caught up with the blood artist and ac­tivist be­hind Blood Mir­ror, Jor­dan Ea­gles. In 2014, artist Jor­dan Ea­gles en­listed a group of 9 ex­tra­or­di­nary gay, pol­y­sex­ual, and/or trans­gen­der men, each with a unique life story, to do­nate their blood to the sculp­ture Blood Mir­ror in protest of the FDA’s ban. The blood in this sculp­ture has been en­cased in resin and is fully pre­served, en­sur­ing that the or­ganic ma­te­rial will not change over time. In 2016, 50 PrEP ad­vo­cates gath­ered in protest to do­nate their blood to Blood Mir­ror. Each in­di­vid­ual do­nated a tube of blood – 50 tubes equals a full pint, the amount in a stan­dard blood dona­tion — which was col­lected into the “com­mu­nity pint”. This blood was pre­served in­side Blood Mir­ror, which protests FDA’s cur­rent 1-year de­fer­ral pol­icy to stig­ma­tize gay and bi­sex­ual men with­out ac­count­ing for PrEP, con­doms, and other safe­sex prac­tices that can greatly re­duce the risk of HIV in­fec­tion. View­ers can en­ter Blood Mir­ror and see them­selves re­flected through the blood of these 59 pre­served do­na­tions. A totem of science and equal­ity, Blood Mir­ror is an ar­chive of the donors’ blood that con­fronts the 33-year his­tory of the FDA’s ban and cur­rent dis­crim­i­na­tory pol­icy.

AM: What is this art piece called and what is the mes­sage be­hind the work?

JOR­DAN EA­GLES: The piece is called Blood Mir­ror. It is made out of the blood do­na­tions of 59 gay, bi­sex­ual and trans­gen­der men to dis­cuss and peace­fully protest the FDA’s dis­crim­i­na­tory pol­icy on blood do­na­tions for gay and bi­sex­ual men. Up un­til re­cently (2015), there was a life­time ban from do­nat­ing if a man had sex with an­other man once, he was de­ferred for life. This was put into ef­fect in 1983 dur­ing the AIDS epi­demic. In 2015, the FDA changed the pol­icy to al­low gay and bi­sex­ual men to do­nate blood, but only if they were celi­bate for a full year, which is as I see it ridicu­lous, es­pe­cially when there are no re­quire­ments for any other in­di­vid­u­als to be celi­bate.

So this piece was cre­ated over a two year pe­riod, there are two it­er­a­tions. The first phase of the pro­ject hap­pened be­fore, in 2014 and 2015, and in­volved the blood do­na­tions of 9 very par­tic­u­lar men, all with very unique sto­ries and life per­spec­tives about hypocrisy and pol­icy.

AM: Who are some of the in­di­vid­u­als who do­nated blood for the pro­ject? Why were they se­lected, what are their sto­ries?

JE: These are some of those blood donors. Oliver Anene is a LBGT ac­tivist from Nige­ria who is here in the US on po­lit­i­cal asy­lum. It is ironic and sad how his par­tic­i­pa­tion of the pro­ject has a dif­fer­ent mean­ing now in 2018, even though we’re think­ing of the FDA’s pol­icy on blood do­na­tions, blood is some­thing that is in all hu­man be­ings – a life force for ev­ery­one in the world. So it was im­por­tant to ask some­one very far away to be rep­re­sented. Blue Bayer is a bi­sex­ual fa­ther of two, so it re­ally hu­man­izes his in­abil­ity to do­nate blood for his own chil­dren should they need it. Howard Gross­man, M.D., is the med­i­cal su­per­vi­sor on the pro­ject, and well as a blood donor, he is a clas­sic AIDS spe­cial­ist, on the front lines of HIV/AIDS for 30 some­what years. Kelsey Louis is the CEO of Gay Men’s Health Cri­sis. Lawrence D. Mass, M.D., is the co-founder of GMHC and the first writer to write about AIDS back in the 80’s. The Rev­erend John Moody, he is an openly gay pri­est and part of Trin­ity Wall St, co­in­ci­den­tally where the first act of protest was. Rev­erend Moody was im­por­tant so some­one could speak about the spir­i­tu­al­ity of the blood and it’s so of­ten con­nected to a lot of re­li­gious iconog­ra­phy, rit­u­als and the deep hu­man­ity of it. Loren Rice is a trans­gen­der man, who at the time he do­nated blood he was mar­ried to an­other trans­gen­der man. What’s in­ter­est­ing about this that the trans­gen­der men can be self-iden­ti­fi­able, but that means if you check the box you’re with an­other trans­gen­der man, mean­ing that check­ing the box con­fers you slept with an­other man, and in so, then dis­qual­i­fied from giv­ing blood. What about monog­a­mously mar­ried peo­ple, there is CPT An­thony Woods who is mar­ried, but is also in the pro­ject be­cause he led two terms in Iraq, and he could shed his blood on the bat­tle­field and can­not do­nate blood to save lives. It is so crazy es­pe­cially when dona­tion is sup­posed to be this pa­tri­otic, sym­bolic duty. Ty Spicha is an iden­ti­cal twin, he is gay and is brother is straight. They have the same DNA but only one can do­nate be­cause one is gay and one isn’t. So all of that was done in 2014-2015.

AM: Where else has the Blood Mir­ror been fea­tured?

JE: The sculp­ture pre­miered in Wash­ing­ton DC at the Amer­i­can His­tory Mu­seum and trav­elled from there to here in New York, at Trin­ity Wall St. Then from there, it came back to my stu­dio and we did an­other it­er­a­tion of the pro­ject, where we cre­ated a blood drive for 50 men do­nat­ing a tube of blood, on PrEP to make a joint hu­man pint, and that was added to the piece and pre­served. The viewer es­sen­tially be­comes an­other par­tic­i­pant in the piece be­cause of the na­ture of be­ing a mir­ror – you can see your­self through the blood of men whose blood would have been used for life-sav­ing pur­poses.

AM: What is it like to tell sto­ries with blood, tell us more about your­self?

I’m an artist and have been work­ing in blood for al­most 20 years. Most of my work was done from blood pro­cured from a slaugh­ter­house and ad­dresses dif­fer­ent themes, more philo­soph­i­cally driven, spir­i­tu­al­ity, re­gen­er­a­tion, life­cy­cle, and the body. This is the first hu­man blood pro­ject and happy it is here in the Mu­seum of the City of New York. 55 of the donors are New York­ers, so I

re­ally feel it is com­ing back home. The piece was re­cently shown as of last year through mid­dle of this year at the Birm­ing­ham Civil Rights In­sti­tute in Alabama, so dif­fer­ent venues can change the ways it can be dis­cussed. Here it is based on the theme of con­tain­ment, it is re­ally a con­tem­po­rary metaphor of even to­day in 2018, LGBT in­di­vid­u­als are es­sen­tially quar­an­tined through their blood and not be­ing able to par­tic­i­pate the way ev­ery­one else can. So hope­fully af­ter eight months of it be­ing here, more peo­ple will know about the is­sue and peo­ple will wake up and change the pol­icy.

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