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Corrupted Air

Corrupted Air (2018) is a work by Femke Herregraven.

Nowadays, natural catastrophes are not only events that have an impact on the physical surroundings of human, they have also become a financial instrument, a factor within the overall system of trade, investment and betting on the future. With its so-called ‘catastrophe bonds’, ‘cat- bonds’ for short, catastrophic events are insured against via the capital markets, that is to say, that the occurrence of a catastrophe no longer just affects the populace in the immediate vicinity, but it entails considerable profit or loss for investors too. An actual 'natural' catastrophe has a virtual effect on geographically-remote individuals and corporations as well. Circulating on financial markets, cat bonds are used to speculate on future disasters with specified material damage and pre-defined numbers of human casualties.

The work Corrupted Air (2018) is installed consisting of two conjoined lightboxes. Herregraven has compiled a table of all catbonds dating from 1996 through to 2018 and placed them alongside the first mortality table from John Graunt’s Bills of Mortality published in London in 1662, a mere three years before the outbreak of the Great Plague. The historic mortality table or 'List of Casualties' does not incorporate the ages of the deceased, but catalogues the causes of death and thus illuminates the reemergence and distribution of particular symptoms and pandemics. This historic categorization and collection of death cases appear to be a preliminary stage of human impulse to find some sort of indexicality of mortalities. By juxtaposing these two tables, Herregraven proposes how the predictive modeling of highly complex cat bonds is rooted in historical patterns of medieval administration, with contemporary consequences.

More: femkeherregraven.net/works/

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