‘The Romantic Disease’ – an exhibition by Anna Dumitriu

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Felt lungs filled with dust and dad pathogens of mycobacterium tuberculosis

(Images taken from; http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/artist-dyes-clothes-quilts-tuberculosis-and-staph-bacteria-180949511/?no-ist)

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“Pneumothorax machine”: an altered (carved and engraved) early 20th century Pneumothorax machine—used to collapse tuberculosis patients’ lungs to give them a rest—pictured in front of the TB bacteria DNA-infused felted lungs.’

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‘The Normal Flora project’s chair, with a hand-stitched seat cover that depicts microscope images of bacteria found on the object.’

Whilst researching artists who have utilised lung related issues within their practice, I came across this fascinating textile artist. Anna Dumitriu is a strange, yet wonderful artist for one reason; she utilises dead pathogens of highly dangerous diseases within her work. I discovered her work after researching issues relating to lung disease within artist’s work, and actually finding very little artworks directly relating to such an idea. The work is at once soft and harmless, yet holding a terrifying power; evident in the merging of harsh treatments for tuberculosis (like the pneumothorax machine), and soft felts and textiles. The use of dust and pathogens in the work is what really drew me to this artist though; at once confronting us with danger, yet innocently, as the pathogens of the virus, are, in fact, dead. She also brings to mind the idea that bacteria is everywhere, an idea that we are so used to forgetting in our sterile, contemporary lives. I, for one, was raised in a very clean house, and therefore have a slight aversion to dirt and grime; yet, I am entranced by these works; is it because of my already indoctrinated world view that I find this world outside of my own, yet so very close to me, fascinating? or is it much like morbid curiosity? My work focuses on death and the close line that we tread towards it, teetering on the edge of death throughout our life; deadly bacterium and pathogens are floating around in our atmosphere, what prevents us from inhaling and dying from these every day?

I really like the use of textiles in Anna’s work; the use of soft, almost comforting materials such as felt and cotton housing deadly and quite dark and destructive concepts. It is reminiscent of Louise Bourgeoise’s work, which I have had a great fondness for; her portrayal of mental and personal issues to her, as the artist, and the life she has lived through, and translating them into artworks as a means of meditation and rumination, is respectful. There are similarities between these ideas within my work, as I feel that my artwork is a means of catharsis for myself and my emotions.

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