CONTAGION shares a multiplicity of voices and perspectives – contemporary and historic, artistic and scientific, individual and collective – to support better understanding of what we are all living through.
Covid-19 has been with us for more than a year. The pandemic has upended our lives and illuminated longstanding challenges. In these unsettled times – much more so for some than for others – trustworthy evidence about what is happening changes rapidly. What we have retrieved from this, our very own moment, and in history, are works backed by research that put into relief the reciprocity, empathy, care and knowledge that can develop across disciplines and across experiences at different scales.
CONTAGION examines the transmission of emotions, behaviours, ideas and diseases, their fascinating and sometimes frightening spread and why all of this matters to the lives we hope to lead and the futures we can imagine.
Despite uncertainties, throughout the planning and making of this exhibition our goal has remained constant: to create an inspiring and informative public platform that encourages the asking of better and more relevant questions.
We encourage you to sign up to see the exhibition with our mediators and hope that you will find at least one thing to carry away with you in your hearts and your minds.
Danielle Olsen is International Cultural Producer at Wellcome. She has a background in history and philosophy of science, contemporary art, museums, film and radio. Danielle thrives on working collaboratively to explore and share ideas and experiences in compelling and meaningful ways – through artist residencies, exhibitions, public programming, commissions, films, broadcasts, books and walks. She is passionate about supporting imaginative and inclusive approaches to tackling global health challenges. Her recent work includes Contagious Cities (an exploration of epidemic-preparedness in Berlin, Geneva, Hong Kong and New York) and Art in Global Health (6 artist residencies in medical research centres in Kenya, Malawi, South Africa, Thailand, the UK and Vietnam). Next up is Mindscapes (an international cultural programme about mental health)." | safe}}
Historian of Science
Jahnavi Phalkey is the Founding Director of Science Gallery Bengaluru. A historian of science and filmmaker, she was formerly based at King’s College London. She was Fellow, Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin (the Institute of Advanced Study, Berlin), external curator to the Science Museum London, and a Scholar-in-Residence at the Deutsches Museum, Munich. Jahnavi is the author of ‘Atomic State: Big Science in Twentieth Century India’ and has co- edited ‘Science of Giants: China and India in the Twentieth Century.’ She holds a doctoral degree in history of science and technology from the Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta.
Historian of Medicine
Sanjoy Bhattacharya is Director of the History Department’s Centre for Global Health Histories, Professor in the History of Medicine, a Wellcome Trust Senior Investigator and the Head of the WHO Collaborating Centre for Global Health Histories (based at the University of York). Sanjoy specialises in the health, medical, environmental, political and social history of nineteenth and twentieth century South Asia, as well as the history and contemporary workings of international and global health programmes around the world. Sanjoy is deeply involved in the World Health Organization’s Global Health Histories project (GHH), whose global activities are coordinated from inside the WHO’s Regional Office for Europe.
Shahid Jameel was the Chief Executive Officer of the Wellcome Trust/DBT India Alliance. He did his PhD in Biochemistry from Washington State University (USA) and his postdoctoral work in Molecular Virology from the University of Colorado Medical School (USA). Prior to joining the India Alliance, he was Group Leader of Virology at the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (New Delhi, India) for over 25 years, where his research focused on the hepatitis E virus and HIV. He has published over 120 peer-reviewed papers and served on various review and advisory committees of the Government of India and the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Mukund Thattai obtained a B.A. in Physics from Cornell University in 1999, and a Ph.D. in Physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2004. Mukund's interests straddle many disciplines. Immediately following his Ph.D., Mukund took up an independent position as a Young Investigator at the National Centre for Biological Sciences in Bangalore; in 2007 he joined the NCBS faculty. Mukund's laboratory at NCBS uses both experimental and computational techniques to study how cells work. He has made key contributions in the area of synthetic biology, a field which attempts to combine genes into biological circuits. Mukund is deeply involved in public engagement efforts and art/science collaborations, working with conceptual artists and theatre practitioners to explore the practice of biology and its impact on society.
Robert Koch Institute
The Robert Koch Institute is the national public health institute in Germany and is one of the oldest institutions of its kind worldwide. Evidence-based science is at the core of its work, enabling it to identify health risks reliably and issue recommendations to improve the health of the population. During the founding years from 1891 to 1904, the institute was headed by Robert Koch, a physician and scientist who, as a result of his research into anthrax, first determined the connection between infectious agent and disease. He later discovered the tuberculosis pathogen for which he received the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1905.
The Museum at the RKI, which was established following the death of Robert Koch in 1910 has now developed into a Public Health Visiting Centre since its renovation in 2017. Acting as a window to science at the Robert Koch Institute, the museum communicates about current topics relevant to public health today, the shift in the last 100 years with respect to infection prevention and research methods, as well as the history of the institute. Exhibits include some of Robert Koch's possessions, as well as modern visual and media installations.
John Innes Centre
The John Innes Centre is an independent, international centre of excellence in plant science and microbiology based in Norwich, UK.
The John Innes Centre’s mission is to generate knowledge of plants and microbes through innovative research, to train the scientists of the future and to engage with the public and policymakers. This understanding of nature’s diversity can then be applied to the benefit of agriculture, the environment, human health, and wellbeing.
DBT/Wellcome Trust India Alliance
DBT/Wellcome Trust India Alliance is an independent, dynamic public charity that funds research in health and biomedical sciences in India. India Alliance invests in transformative ideas and supportive research ecosystems to advance discovery and innovation to improve health and well-being. India Alliance encourages diversity, inclusivity, and transparency in science and works to facilitate engagement of science with society.
India Alliance is funded by the Department of Biotechnology, Government of India and Wellcome Trust, UK.
Indian National Science Academy
The Indian National Science Academy was established in January 1935 with the object of promoting science in India and harnessing scientific knowledge for the cause of humanity and national welfare. The foundation of the Academy, earlier known as the National Institute of Sciences of India (NISI), was the outcome of joint endeavours of several organizations and individuals and the Indian Science Congress Association (ISCA) playing a leading role in this regard.
Chennai Photo Biennale
The Chennai Photo Biennale (CPB) Foundation's primary focus area is photography education and discourse that takes place through year-round collaborations and photo education programmes. This activity culminates in a city-wide public-art photography festival at the end of every two years. The CPB Foundation has diversified its programmes and content for different audiences primarily under three verticals: @chennaiphotobiennale, @cpblearninglab, and @cpbprism.
U.S. Consulate General Chennai
The U.S. Consulate General Chennai is one of the four consulates in Mission India supporting the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi in the states of Karnataka, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu, and the Union Territories of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, the Union Territory of Lakshadweep, and Puducherry. The Public Affairs Section of the U.S. Consulate General Chennai supports the U.S. Government’s efforts to strengthen our relationships with India through speaker programs; academic, cultural, and professional exchanges; alumni community engagement; social media; higher education promotion; cultural preservation; English teacher training; and select grants to non-profit organizations.
Dr Jenner’s House
Dr Jenner’s House is the former home of vaccine pioneer Edward Jenner, the place from which he encouraged the world to practice vaccination against smallpox. Now it is open to the public and shares the long, global history of vaccination. Its collections cover Jenner’s life, work and ongoing legacy, including the eradication of smallpox, the development of other vaccines and the work of people around the world tackling infectious disease. Dr Jenner’s House is run by The Jenner Trust, an independent charity seeking to use this past to inspire the present and the future.
French Institute in India
The French Institute / IFI (Institut français India) is a section of the Embassy of France responsible for connecting and implementing Indo-French human exchanges. IFI performs numerous functions: from promoting academic and scientific exchanges between higher institutes of learning and research, to enabling student mobility and promoting French language. We also foster links between artists, scientists, NGOs, professors, enterprises, film professionals, publishers and more. We support partnerships in research and innovation, capacity-building and interactions with civil society, vocational studies, as well as artistic and cultural partnerships in performance, books, film, fashion, design and more. We support and organise forums and debates that bring together innovators and thinkers from both countries.
Ajaibghar builds strategy and management solutions in Arts & Culture, driven by creative technology and new media.
Team - Ambika Joshi, Nanditi Khilnani, Himanshu Erande, Sreeram Venkitesh, Ronish Sawal, Anushka Trivedi, Shibija A