uOttawa and uAlberta take on vaccine controversy with evidence-based Geneva art exhibition

Posted on Monday, May 29, 2017

Kaisu Koski, Injection Simulator, 2015.

Artists, researchers and policymakers highlight the complex issues surrounding global vaccination in <Immune Nations> show.

Questions related to the safety, effectiveness and proper use of vaccines have been the subject of a heated and polarized international debate, one complicated by the influx of fraudulent information. This has hindered society’s ability to have a reasoned, rational and respectful discussion around vaccines.

Now, the University of Ottawa’s Global Strategy Lab is co-leading an evidence-based multidisciplinary exhibition, <Immune Nations>, that opens a discussion on the role art can play in global policy discourse around life-saving vaccines.  It takes place at UNAIDS in Geneva, Switzerland, from May 23 to June 30, 2017, and is presented along with the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Arts.

Alison Humphrey, Caitlin Fisher, LaLaine Ulit-Destajo & Steven Hoffman, Shadowpox, 2017. Motion-tracked interactive projections, Galleri KiT, 2017.

“We were interested in exploring the constructive role that art and culture could have in informing global health decision-making," said Steven Hoffman, director of the Global Strategy Lab and associate professor of law, medicine and public and international affairs at the University of Ottawa. “Drawing on the very best from what different academic disciplines have to offer, we co-created an evidence-based art exhibit that reflected what we learned from each other.”

Jesper Alvaer and Johan Holst, Upstream the Cold Chain, single channel video, 2017. ​

The collaborative project highlights the work of researchers and visual artists aiming to reframe current discussion surrounding vaccines, identify the limitations of existing approaches and combine art with research evidence to devise creative ways of promoting universal vaccination.

“The exhibit is an invitation to discuss major issues in global vaccination, from the psychology of ‘anti-vaxxers,’ to the pragmatics of the ‘cold chain,’ and the importance of ‘herd immunity,’” said Natalie Loveless, assistant professor of history of art, design and visual culture at the University of Alberta.

The exhibit presents research from The Vaccine Project, a three-year interdisciplinary and collaborative initiative that brings together artists, academics and health care professionals to explore the complex issues related to the use and distribution of vaccines.

See the <Immune Nations> exhibition catalogue (PDF 3.17 MB).

Follow the conversation on Twitter: @ImmuneNations and #ImmuneNations.

Media inquiries:

Sarah Foster
Media Relations Officer
University of Ottawa

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