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Public Notice

Elaine Whittaker, I Caught it at The Movies (detail), 2013, Petri dishes, digital images, mylar, gouache, agar, Halobacterium sp. NRC-1

Public Notice

September 15, 2018 - January 13, 2019

Alison Humphrey, Ruth Cuthand, Elaine Whittaker, Ho Tam, Stephen Andrews, Abraham Anghik Ruben, Kim Morgan

A hundred years ago, when World War I was winding down and peace was right around the corner, a new strain of influenza swept the world, killing more people than the war. The 1918 Spanish Influenza is considered the deadliest outbreak of infectious disease in recorded history. Previously, epidemics were blamed on “the other” for importing diseases, they were considered a foreign threat that encouraged xenophobia. The 1918 pandemic was different. It was a global threat that attacked the young and healthy, and forced a new way of understanding how disease was spread. It’s often referred to as the “forgotten” epidemic due to its limited coverage in the war-censored media at the time. Today such an outbreak would be non-stop news. Consider the mainstream reaction to the 2014-15 Ebola crisis: 10 confirmed cases in North America but over 21 million tweets about the outbreak in October 2015 just in the United States. The media referred to the panic as “fearbola,” and there was wide spread misinformation and misunderstanding about facts of the disease. Technology and access to information (false or otherwise) helps spread hysteria and fear.

Inciting fear is thought to raise awareness. Really, fear divides. It divides the healthy from the unhealthy, those who are willing to help with those who are not, and often fact from fiction. “Very few people understand the programming of fear, and why it distorts our perceptions. While fear is a program used for our survival, fear also creates irrational beliefs that cause larger systems of fear like politics, religion and the media.” Ben Fama Jr., A Virus Called Fear

The artists’ work in Public Notice deal with disease and illness from various perspectives. Whether historically and racially themed, scientific facts versus fiction, or loss and misunderstanding, all contribute to the idea that often fear trumps empathy and understanding.

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20180915 20190113 America/Toronto Public Notice <strong>Alison Humphrey, Ruth Cuthand, Elaine Whittaker, Ho Tam, Stephen Andrews, Abraham Anghik Ruben, Kim Morgan</strong> A hundred years ago, when World War I was winding down and peace was right around the corner, a new strain of influenza swept the world, killing more people than the war. The 1918 Spanish Influenza is considered the deadliest outbreak of infectious disease in recorded history. Previously, epidemics were blamed on “the other” for importing diseases, they were considered a foreign threat that encouraged xenophobia. The 1918 pandemic was different. It was a global threat that attacked the young and healthy, and forced a new way of understanding how disease was spread. It's often referred to as the "forgotten" epidemic due to its limited coverage in the war-censored media at the time. Today such an outbreak would be non-stop news. Consider the mainstream reaction to the 2014-15 Ebola crisis: 10 confirmed cases in North America but over 21 million tweets about the outbreak in October 2015 just in the United States. The media referred to the panic as “fearbola,” and there was wide spread misinformation and misunderstanding about facts of the disease. Technology and access to information (false or otherwise) helps spread hysteria and fear. Inciting fear is thought to raise awareness. Really, fear divides. It divides the healthy from the unhealthy, those who are willing to help with those who are not, and often fact from fiction. “Very few people understand the programming of fear, and why it distorts our perceptions. While fear is a program used for our survival, fear also creates irrational beliefs that cause larger systems of fear like politics, religion and the media.” Ben Fama Jr., A Virus Called Fear The artists' work in <em>Public Notice</em> deal with disease and illness from various perspectives. Whether historically and racially themed, scientific facts versus fiction, or loss and misunderstanding, all contribute to the idea that often fear trumps empathy and understanding. The Robert McLaughlin Gallery, Queen Street, Oshawa, ON, Canada The Robert McLaughlin Gallery communications@rmg.on.ca