Contagion is co-commissioned by 14-18 NOW, the UK’s arts programme for the First World War centenary.
The casualty count of the First World War was immense – but it came to be dwarfed by the deadly Spanish flu pandemic
that swept through the world during the conflict’s final year. The virulent flu strain that emerged in 1918 infected up to 500 million people around the globe, its effects dramatically amplified by huge wartime troop movements. It eventually killed as much as five per cent of the world’s population.
Contagion is inspired by the nature and rapid spread of the flu virus – the unseen enemy that mankind was battling within, while engaging in more conventional warfare in the world outside. The striking work of the Austrian artist Egon Schiele, one of many who fell victim to the Spanish flu, forms a visual footnote to the piece.
Set to an atmospheric soundscape and presented in promenade style with striking digital visuals, Contagion is presented in unusual venues, many with connections to the First World War. The work will be accompanied by an innovative digital installation and learning programme, bringing the public closer to a subject that remains relevant today.