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September 17, 2015 - October 24, 2015
The idea of Painkillers stems from a research concerning the germ warfare that the British conducted against the indigenous population of North American Indians when they distributed smallpox-infected blankets among the local Indian population. Knowledge about epidemics and spread of smallpox was actually used to produce a predecessor of biological warfare.
Equally striking was the development of Soviet biological weapons, especially during the Cold War era. For example, the infamous Biopreparat program, “Biological substance preparation”, was effectively a major biological warfare agency, and was run by, amongst others, the Ministry of Health. One of the scientists, Yuri Anatolievich Ovchinnikov promoted the use of molecular biology and genetics for creating new types of biological weapons. Kanatzhan Alibekov (physician and microbiologist) who is currently a biodefence consultant in USA was one of the major figures in Biopreparat and he not only oversaw the biological weapons facilities but also the significant number of pharmaceutical facilities that produced antibiotics, vaccines, sera, and interferon for the public.
These paradoxes serve as a historical background for Painkillers, a project whose aim is to explore the involvement of the pharmaceutical companies in conflicts and relationship between the military and pharmaceutical industries.