“An apology, a pill, a ritual, a resistance clusters together works exploring or enacting methods of healing and the pain that often must be endured to get better. Specific subjects range from Indigenous responses to smallpox and the 1918 influenza pandemic, to iconic works by artists grappling with the HIV/AIDS crisis, and apologies and acts of reconciliation that move toward healing relations fractured by colonialism.
The artists featured in the exhibition attend to the sick or disabled body as it intersects with societal injustices, and propose alternate frameworks for care and wellbeing rooted in relation to community and the non-human world. Within philosophy, the term pharmakon is a composite of three meanings: remedy, poison and scapegoat. The indeterminacy of medicine to simultaneously heal and harm, and its capacity to produce altered bodies and states of consciousness, is addressed throughout the exhibition. As anxieties of contagion remain hyper-visible, attached to bodies as much as to viruses, the concept of pharmakon becomes a useful lens through which to consider our current moment. What rituals do we enact, whether daily or ceremonial, for our wellbeing, and what must be expelled—or conversely, taken in—in order to heal?”