Entangled Health

Anna Dumitriu is joining the University of Surrey from Autumn 2021 as their first Artist in Residence, working alongside researchers Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences over the next academic year. She will work closely with colleagues from the School of Biosciences and Medicine and the School of Veterinary Medicine to research develop and produce a new body of artworks that will increase public awareness of the ongoing ‘One Health’ research being undertaken at the University. The work will be showcased in Summer 2022 and leave a legacy to be used as a highly novel teaching resource for students beyond the residency period.

The residency has been made possible thanks to a successful Institute for Advanced Studies (IAS) fellowship application by Anna and her host at the University, Professor Mark Chambers.

Since over 70% of emerging infectious diseases in humans originate in animals, the focus of the residency will be exploring the complex interrelationship of animal and human health, a concept described by the World Health Organisation as ‘One Health’. This holistic approach brings together pathogens, humans, wildlife, livestock, and their environments. Our artistic project will explore entangled disease ecosystems and the many and varied issues that stand in the way of tackling infectious diseases. Exploration of ‘One Health’ from an artistic perspective will complement research at Surrey on zoonotic diseases (those that spread from animals to people) caused by agents from the small (viruses), e.g. hepatitis, rabies, influenza, Ebola, Lassa fever, COVID-19; medium (bacteria), e.g. bovine tuberculosis, Lyme disease; and large (parasites), e.g. schistosomiasis.

Bovine TB is an excellent example of a disease that intersects the science, arts and humanities, raising questions regarding the ethical treatment and ownership of wildlife, trade regulations around vaccination and testing, and ensuring milk is safe to drink. We will interrogate the role that culture plays in our attitudes to wildlife such as myths and stories regarding bats, badgers and foxes.

The key aim of the residency will be for the artist to work closely with Professor Chambers and colleagues to research, develop and produce a new body of artworks that will increase public awareness of the One Health’ research being undertaken in the University. For the artist it will enable her to extend her work with infectious diseases in humans in this important ‘One Health’ context; taking a deep dive into the entangled relationship of animal and human health which has long intrigued her.