Tekstboks: #

Portrait of a sculptor


Human blood, the Bible, and thousands of genuine American bank notes are elements of The Tenth Plague. The happening was launched at Easter 2001 in Denmark, to denounce the greed of the pharmaceutical industry. They were filing a lawsuit about patent rights in South Africa and so cynically defending their right to decide over people’s lives.

Ten big canvasses are spanned up on rough, bulky frames shaped as doors. The frames are covered with gold foil. The canvasses are coated with 2500 genuine dollar bills ordered from the Central Bank in New York. Some of the bills will shape the text In God We Trust. On the dollar notes the names of the greedy companies are painted with human blood.

The happening was intended to have international scale. But as the pharmaceutical companies opted to give up the lawsuit the project was temporarily suspended. But expressions of support had already arrived, e.g. from several bishops in Brazil.

Jens Galschiot has no doubt that some day the pharmaceutical companies will make a new attempt to defend their hegemony and so there will be an occasion to reopen the case.

About the symbolism the artist explains:

The happening connects to the Biblical narrative of the 10th plague upon Egypt. God sends his angel of death, to haunt the entire nation. All first-born shall mercilessly die. Nobody is spared, except the Israelites who have stained a lamb’s blood on their doors. I will reiterate this ritual, but due to the foot and mouth disease we cannot use the blood of a lamb. So we’ll use human blood instead to write the names of the pharmaceutical companies across the dollar bills. They have assumed the role of God as a healing and protecting force. But they put their salvation mark only on the doors of wealthy people. They have a special responsibility because they are in charge of a medical product capable of saving the lives of millions of people. But they are shrinking from their responsibility.