Roberto Ekholm: Patient Zero and Cousin Mosquito

Roberto Ekholm MOCA London

Roberto Ekholm’s two performances Patient Zero and Cousin Mosquito play on the language used to discuss illnesses, both in media and political terms where the individual morphs into projections of fear and the body become a political landscape.

The first part Patient Zero, uses the idea of a press announcement of an epidemic and the relation to “patient zero”. Performed before in the UK and Sydney. The performance will be developed further for the MOCA London event.

The starting research for Patient Zero was the book “And the Band Played on: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic” by Randy Shilts, an investigative report on the AIDS epidemic in the 80’s. The book introduces the urban legend of the Canadian flight attendant Gaëtan Dugas as patient zero. The book looks at the medical, social and political implications of the disease. During an epidemic outbreak, the search is for the origin of the outbreak and to find patient zero.

In recent studies the identity of Dugas as patient zero was a misinterpretation of the letter O. To find answers and evoke a sense of control there is an urge to define and contain knowledge as a comprehensive truth. Peter Berger states that death is an essential feature of the human condition that requires people to develop means of coping with it. As suggested by Chris Shilling it is only in the context of “the body’s inevitable death that we can understand its full social importance”. Self-Identity becomes part of the social constitution in relation to death. As science develops and the “terminal” turns to “chronic” the body becomes a canvas for metaphors of fears, hope and desires.

The piece is structured around the word Epidemic and follows Susan Sontag’s writing about illness and metaphors;  a synthesis of imagery is used as a backdrop to “The outbreak declaration”.

The second part is the premiere of Cousin Mosquito based on the Liberian Congresswoman Malinda Jackson Parker’s song “Cousin Mosquito #1″. She promoted community health and hygiene and wrote the song to educate the population about Malaria. The eccentric lyrics about mosquitos were written to Rachmaninoff’s prelude and will be performed by a singer and a cellist. The piece explores the relationship between sexual health, health promotions and metaphors used to discuss, educate, warn, and control the spread of diseases. When knowledge expands beyond fear and isolation, prevention becomes a seduction.

The original song has been reconstructed and uses forms to play on language, words, sound and rhythm as information. This open-ended piece becomes a staged act for “getting the message across” and questions what and who these messages are for.

Duration 27 October 2018 - 27 October 2018
Times 8pm
Cost Free
Venue MOCA London
Address 113 Bellenden Road, London, SE15 4QY
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