Gestures of Collapse (2019), HD video, 3'15 excerpt (original 12'00)

Gestures of Collapse is a short film influenced by a nineties Belgium news report. The report covered a poisoning epidemic bought on by drinking Coca Cola that heavily effected a number of high schools. After further investigation into the case, no toxic cause was actually established and many features of the outbreak pointed to mass sociogenic illness (MSI). MSI is described as “a constellation of symptoms of an organic illness, but without identifiable cause, which occurs among two or more persons who share beliefs related to those symptoms”. A large number of these outbreaks have been reported throughout history, with the expression of such mass hysteria being shaped by the experiences and shared beliefs of its victims.

The work Gestures of Collapse uses the genre of the TV news report to inform an audience about MSI, but also to think about how stuff gets spread — contagion, rumours, beliefs, emotions, actions. The work reflects on human agency, the mimetic unconscious and the ways in which behaviours are predicted, influenced, reproduced and manipulated.

Kindly supported by Mondriaan Fonds.