Press release 08 April 2001:
Sacrifice of Blood
Danish Plague upon Pharmaceutical Industry
Human blood, the Bible, and thousands of genuine American bank notes are elements of The Tenth Plague, a new international happening of Danish sculptor Jens Galschiot. The event will be launched at Easter in Denmark, to pillory the greed of the pharmaceutical industry, cynically defending their right to decide over people’s lives. On various occasions, Jens Galschiot has set up provocative art events that have fanned the discussion of the strident imbalance of the Globe. The new ‘Plague’ seems to match the level of radicalism and media coverage of previous events.
There’s frantic activity all over the artist’s workshop. Everybody is engaged in spanning up ten big canvasses shaped as doors on rough, bulky frames covered with gold foil. 2500 genuine dollar bills ordered from the Central Bank in New York chaotically lying around. They are used for coating the canvasses. Some of the bills will shape the text In God We Trust.
"The Tenth Plague associates to the Biblical narrative in which God, to compel the Pharaoh to release the Israelites from slavery, calls down ten plagues upon Egypt. In the 10th He sends his angel of death, to haunt the entire nation. All first-born shall merciless die. Nobody is spared, except the Israelites who have slaughtered a lamb and stained the blood on their doors", the artist explains. He continues: "I will reiterate this ritual, but due to the foot and mouth decease we cannot use the blood of a lamb. So we’ll use human blood instead. Across the dollar bills on the ten canvasses, I will write with blood the names of the pharmaceutical companies filing a lawsuit about patent rights in South Africa. The pharmaceutical industry has assumed the role of God as a heeling 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 refuse to assume this responsibility"
The artist has chosen Easter for launching the event, because this was the moment when the angel of death haunted Egypt. Christianity has taken over the ritual from the Jews, but they have transformed the slaughtering of the lamb to symbolize Jesus.
The Danish companies involved in the lawsuit will take the lead. The names of Novo and Lundbeck will be the first to be written with blood during the initial ceremony in Denmark, the specific site of which is still a secrete. Subsequently, the installation will be sent to South Africa to take centre stage in connection with the lawsuit starting on 18 April. The South Africans will use their blood to write the names of the local companies involved. Then the canvasses will be sent to the next country involved in the lawsuit. In each country the ritual will be repeated. Eventually, the names of all the companies will be written with human blood across the dollar bills.
More information available:
Jens Galschiot - Banevaenget 22 - DK-5270 Odense N, Tel.: +45 6618 4058 (workshop),
+45 6614 4038 (private) Fax: +45 6618 4158 - E-mail: email@example.com
On the lawsuit: www.msf.org (Médicins Sans Frontières)