“Disease research has advance so much that it is increasingly difficult to find someone who is completely healthy”.


Illness is part of us, it is part of life, it is life itself. Today, in the 21st century, it seems that for the first time, human beings are beginning to pinch and understand the knowledge of what is happening to their organism.

We live in a world captained by the continuous development of science and technology, where little by little an idea of today’s society has been forged in which it is difficult to think about the interaction between individuals, as well as their relationship with the natural and cultural environment, without taking into account these generators of modernity and reality.

When we are young, there comes a time for every individual when we feel a certain suspicion of having the use of reason in our power, we usually have glimpses and sensations of beginning to be aware of where we are, of what we are doing, we fantasize on many occasions about what we want and intend for ourselves, as well as for our nearest and dearest, or, at least (speaking in a utopian way) what we would like, besides, dreaming has always been free.

At this stage of youth we seem to be fervent followers of “living for the moment”, we feel capable of eating the world, we are in favor of the immediate, short term, as well as making our imagination fly and envisioning in an instant how we would like to see ourselves in ten or twenty years’ time. In most cases and, curiously, if we look back and reflect for a moment, we will realize that, at this stage of life, our closest and closest people always appear in our permanently healthy, transparent and prosperous conceptions of the future, they are part of them. Unconsciously, we tend to take it for granted that they will witness those moments and dream goals we are aiming for, that they will always be there, just as we are. Thoughts are arranged around our mind, in a kind of closed circuit full of positivity and typical worries of age. But why wouldn’t it be like that, why would we think the opposite from such a young age? If it is also the discourse that our culture exalts, proclaims and imposes, making us think, conceive and feel that way, under that way of inhabiting the world.

The education that the new generations in developed countries have been receiving for decades, from the outside, in the social and cultural sphere, is the basis for this, and seems to be strongly monopolized by the different information and communication media and continues to this day. This variety of media that surround societies and individuals, such as television, advertising or the internet, are directly or indirectly related and focused on the word – LIFE. We live in a society that produces messages and stereotypes referring to beauty, youth, health, ideals, etc. Where a fashion, an approach, a way of acting is born just as quickly as new ones appear in a very short space of time and replace the first ones. The daily commute from our home to school, college or work, for example, can become a perfect excuse to be bombarded by that beautiful utopia. 

Bombarded by that beautiful utopia of what a dream life should be like, perfect, carefree, within our reach, in which we may be gradually losing our idea of our relationship with life, our surroundings, our illusions, our identity as men and women who inhabit the world.

Continuous production is ahead of consumption needs: never before have so many surpluses been produced. This has given rise to the vigor of advertising, which tries to create new and more extensive consumption habits and new needs in order to supply them. The whole modern economy gravitates around it. And it is the most characteristic factor of the new form of society, which we call the consumer society. Never before have so many means been used to provoke and condition the tastes and needs of the public. There is probably no other modern educational body that takes so much interest and brings together so many means to convey messages. Advertising is creating the social climate of developed countries, enveloping it in an artificial shell that is difficult to overcome. It tends to manage and absorb all the springs of human motivation, constantly and by all means claiming attention and at the same time discarding from the mind of the individual all those ideas or concepts of life which do not interest him in this continuous production of vital needs.

This kind of reality in which we live has never been and never will be as perfect as the one we are shown on a daily basis. For this reason, one not very special day in the life of every individual, that world full of perfection, idealism, positivism and iron health with which we live, typical of the carefree world of childhood and youth, at some point, ends up being strongly affected, either in the first person or in a close environment, by the intrusion of a natural process that belongs to life and which we did not count on in those projects and personal achievements that we envisioned in principle, illness, and consequently, by cultural association, death.

From the moment the disease becomes present in our lives, that positive and prosperous state can turn into fear, uncertainty and all kinds of changes around us. Suddenly, a multitude of priorities take a back seat, you feel the imperious need to control this pathological state at all times, so that it gives you some peace of mind in order to continue with your life plans, your goals, your dreams, your development as a person, although at this point, on many occasions, ideas of non-existence, of non-continuity, of an end start to go round in your head. It is at that precise moment when you realize that the state of good health that you were used to or thought you were preserving and took for granted that it was and would be forever in you and yours, does not exist. You begin to consider the possibility that the people closest to you may not be there tomorrow, that, in the end, people die.

We know that people die, that among many causes and circumstances there are diseases of great magnitude at world level of all types, epidemiological, mortal, degenerative, etc. Most of them are in a permanent and continuous process of study, with a great diversity of gaps in their plan of action and with a view to more effective and decisive and, consequently, healing treatments.

With the arrival of the biotechnological revolution, and the succession of scientific discoveries linked to the field of health, food, etc., we tend to relax and settle into the hopeful climate with which science feeds us, to the point where the contemporary individual seems to conceive that the human race is on its way to being an indestructible, perfect and perpetual entity. However, nothing could be further from the truth. When the individual feels the arrival of illness, he realizes that now that he needs to make use of these new technologies, he begins to realize that he does not really control them yet, that there is still a long way to go before certain types of pathologies become or are conceived as something banal, a simple flu or a cold.

In all this accumulation of circumstances generated, it seems that until the individual himself is touched by illness (whatever its place), he does not feel the need or simply does not want to accept the word illness or death as a concept of life. What can be the reason for this conception of life to have been distorted over the years to this point of dislocation in the contemporaneity of the modern world?

It seems strange to have arrived at this question, if we realize that humanity has been threatened throughout history by plagues of diseases that have struck entire societies and continue to appear to this day, such as the arrival of the coronavirus (Covid19). It is true that the evolution of science is increasingly present, but in the same way that over the years problems have been solved in terms of treatments for truly deadly diseases such as plague or tuberculosis in the past, other diseases, mutations and new forms of contagion have also appeared, leading to new threats of death such as cancer or Covid19, which continue to put us in check and which, after leaving millions of dead all over the world since their appearance, have become the so-called plagues of the 21st century.

This gives us a key by which we can come to think that indeed the disease has been present in the world since the beginning of time, it has always been part of us, the problem is that, in the different developed and industrialized countries, Over the years there has been a social and cultural tendency, accompanied by certain health policies, to misplace and exclude this word, to the point of turning it into a kind of taboo, an isolated entity that does not belong to us, in which we can associate the word game .

This reality is palpable and notorious in the industrialized and developed western world. For this reason, this research (in the form of an artistic strategy) is developed from this cultural framework. We can echo this problem for different reasons. In the first place, we are aware of the great diversity of research means that we can appreciate in these developed countries, marked by scientific and technological development, on the one hand, and on the contrary, the lack of means and different technologies in less developed countries and even underdeveloped by another, where they cannot allow themselves to harbor culturally any hope of healing and eradicating all their sufferings thanks to science or biotechnology, due, among others, to the partial or complete non-existence of centers that develop studies or development pathways in these countries and the lack of generosity and responsibility of the “first world” with them.

Another reason, no less important, consists of the different cultural conceptions of death. While in developed countries, the hedonism of advertising, among other factors, ensures that the conception of death nowadays does not have the communitarian conception that it had and the rites celebrated are increasingly shorter, in Latin American countries such as Mexico, they live openly with death, they celebrate it (“the day of the dead”) in order to bring children and adults closer to the idea of death, so that they accept it as an inevitable part of human life, learn how some ancient cultures They also performed rites on this inexorable part of our passage through the world, and strengthened character from the religious point of view, in this case, but at the same time social and cultural.

To this day, the word seems to have no place in the contemporary, developed and stereotyped society of which we have been talking and of which we are a part, this one in which we have touched and we wish to live together and participate.

For this reason, starting from the understanding of artistic experience as a thought-generating and transforming system of life forms, I would like to illuminate other realities, a reality in which we all live together and that has always been present in us, although perhaps to the shadow of modernity and development that we ourselves create every day.

Contextually, the field of study from which we start, is none other than that which occurred as a result of the AIDS crisis on, up to the present day. The complex phenomenology associated with the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, made the disease soon exceed its strictly sanitary dimension to become a great social and cultural problem, incurring in the modern world as the first epidemic of the era of globalization, which unlike previous epidemics such as plague, cholera or malaria, this time it was not located in a single country or in a group of countries, but affected all continents, maintaining a growing trend that has not stopped in its more than forty years of known existence. In addition, it seems to me an unbeatable framework to start developing this research as a turning point due to the diversity of political, economic, ethical and cultural implications that it produced and continues to occur today, positioning itself as a good excuse to be the object of study throughout matter and organ of knowledge, including the field of Fine Arts, terrain that moves us and happens to us in this case.

Regarding the object of study, I focus on the artistic strategies developed around the different processes and aspects that the disease presents and questions, in an attempt to reconcile the individual with it.

But what are artistic strategies? They are attitudes, positions that act decisively in the constitution of certain works and characterize them, in such a way that they constitute the evolutions of the language of these works. Thus, the strategies of plastic and visual languages explain how groups of works that have similar characteristics are being configured in the face of personal, social, political factors, etc. and they also explain through art the knowledge and awareness of phenomenal and critical aspects of the world in which they live.

If at the beginning we spoke of the continuous development of new technologies, as a very possible reason why these previous approaches take place, such as the loss of the individual’s relationship with his world and his nature, the field of art has not been less productive than science or technology. On the contrary, so much artistic production arises and in such a rapid and varied way that it is often impossible to be aware of the infinity of proposals and trends as they are currently circulating. In fact, we could say that art has never been so far from the disease, since it has also been suffering contagions, mutations and hybridizations of some currents of thought to others, styles and trends are born, leading to new artistic proposals, which have derived in a multiplicity of problems, poetics and languages.

On this occasion, we will take this “artistic contagion” to give it a healing and socializing function, another type of “contagion” in order to always walk towards the word , also understood as a reconciliation with illness and death.

We are going to cling to the great power that artistic experience has, as one of the tools capable of showing, pointing out and denouncing the corseted and hermetic reality, with the possibility of questioning, problematizing and generating new realities, in order to introduce ourselves into the different artistic aspects that surround these processes and status of human affection, until finally we come to raise our reflections around questions such as: What can art do for the disease? What positions were adopted? How could we get to use the disease to punish sectors of the population? Is it possible that we walk together hand in hand with art towards a demystification of the word in contemporary society? To what extent do we harbor hopeful ideas about new technologies to solve all our health problems?



                                                                             Daniel Alejo.

To be surprised, to be surprised, is to begin to understand.
José Ortega y Gasset
Few suspect when perceiving the first crack in a porcelain piece that this thin line is enough to make it explode.
Nuria Barrios