The Flu

swine flu (from ABC)The last two weeks have been intensive. Besides working in the lab, I’ve been fighting a bad cold. I have also been feeling like a pariah given the current climate of fear around swine flu.Between the lab and my cold, I have had to wash my hands so much that they are blistering.

The hype around the swine flu is excessive. Is this “pandemic” an excuse to detain migrating populations? More people die of malaria and other infectious diseases each year. How many pigs have been slaughtered to “prevent” the possibility of contagion ?

The relationship between the current pandemic of the swine flu and this project is uncanny. I never intended to comment on the current climate of fear and surveillance around the swine flu, however, now that I look at some the images I have produced from sewing my hands into pig skin, I do see a relationship. I posted one of the images on the blog earlier under ‘untitled’ and it will be the featured image for publicity announcing my residency talk at Fremantle Arts Centre next week. The flu hit Australia a couple of weeks ago and last week the first cases were reported in Western Australia. Many schools have been shut down and children quarantined at home. See

As for the process of making the cryobooks—- I had to suspend the process after fixing the skin and did not get a chance to do the staining. The skin is now frozen and I will have to thaw them and continue with the staining process. Theoretically, it should still work, but time will tell. After some trial and error with the first batch of ‘books”, I have changed the protocol slightly. The primary rabbit anti-mouse desmin is not being used since, unlike the Living Viral Tattoos, this project does not use myoblast cells- only human epithelial HaCat cells. We also substituted Thy1.1 for the mouse anti-mouse vimentin. Anyway, a revamped protocol is forthcoming and will be posted.


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