In bad air [mal´aria], Susan Brind entwines language and architecture
in a complex work touching on the history of the LSHTM, the disease
of malaria itself and the doctor and patients who wrote about it
and suffered from it. It is an installation inscribed in gold leaf
lettering on the terrazzo surfaces around the quadrant of the Keppel
Street building. The texts are drawn from a number of sources, ranging
from the classical period to the twentieth century. They draw upon
beliefs that prevailed in Britain until the Victorian era, when
ideas about miasma (noxious vapours and foreboding atmospheres)
were replaced by scientific knowledge about bacteria, the causes
of diseases and forms of pollution.
Susan Brind studied at Reading University and the Slade School of
Art. Many of her commissions have touched upon themes such as the
impact of architectural space and other influences on the individual
and tensions between rational forms of knowledge and emotional thought.
The apparently linear narrative text is drawn from The Lake Regions
of Central Africa written by Richard F Burton, first published
in 1860. During his travels with Hanning Speke through the eastern
and central parts of Africa in search of the source of the Nile,
amongst other diseases, Burton suffered recurrent attacks of malaria.
The extracts from his writings have been reordered and edited to
suggest both the cycle of a single bout of fever and the relationship
between the disease and the quality of air, commonly thought at
the time to be inextricably linked. The source of Burton's subjective
and melancholic descriptions of the landscape and climate might
not, in the past, have been attributed to the presence of the malarial
parasite and its effect on the liver and spleen. Nor to the effects
of the Warburg's Drops, which contained opium, that he consumed
to treat his fever. Instead they would have been ascribed to an
imbalance of Humours, specifically a surfeit of black bile for which
gold was once believed to be a cure.
The three numbered
stages of the fever are those identified for medical purposes (WHS
Jones, Malaria and Greek History, 1909).
The italicised texts represent proposed cures for a tertian fever.
The first by Thomas Palmer, is given in his Admirable Secrets
of Physick & Chyrurgery, 1696. The second quote, relating to
the ancient use of Pennyroyal, is from Pliny the Elder's Natural
History (first century AD). The third, by Thomas Sydenham, is
from his Epistle 1: On the Epidemic Diseases up to 1679.
Sydenham was the first doctor in England to suggest the use of Peruvian
Bark - from which quinine was derived - as a treatment. The fourth
quote, recounting Burton's use of Warburg's Drops, is drawn from
Alan Moorehead's The White Nile, 1960, a twentieth century
critical account of colonial travellers.
The quotation from page 26, The
White Nile by Alan Moorehead, (Hamish Hamilton 1960, revised
edition 1971) copyright 1960, 1971, is reproduced by permission
of Penguin Books Ltd.
An Adobe Acrobat (PDF) version of the brochure is available:Brind.pdf
last updated 12.12.02 | site designed and maintained by Adrian Cousins