(Born in 1973. Switzerland)
Learning from Artemisia, 2019—2020
Malaria, Congo and the Belgians, 2019—2020
Artemisia Afra in Katanga, 2019
In his video installation, Uriel Orlow deals with Artemisia afra, an indigenous medicinal plant that effectively treats and prevents malaria and can be taken as an infusion. Nevertheless, it is not recommended as a treatment by the World Health Organisation, which favors the pharmaceutical industry and its global reach.
In 2019, malaria still killed a child every few minutes and the parasite that causes it is becoming ever more drug resistant. In the 1970s, research to develop new anti-malarial drugs led to the discovery and extraction of artemisinin from the Chinese& variety of Artemisia used for two thousand years—and now patented in medications.
However, resistance is now also increasing against the extracted artemisinin. At the same time it has become evident that the non-extractive use of the whole plant is still effective, yet the plant is prohibited in many parts of Europe. Artemisia afra grows in different parts of Africa including the Congo and contains no artemisin (but a potent cocktail of minerals, including abundant copper); not only does it resist drug resistance but it also resists extractive medicine. In the context of the Democratic Republic of Congo whose colonial and postcolonial economy has been dominated by various forms of extraction (mainly of minerals), Artemisia afra can help us to imagine much needed non-extractive relationships to natural resources as well as local and sustainable healthcare solutions and forms of solidarity.
Collaboration: Lumartemisia CAE RDC and Dr Constant Tchandema
Musicians: Muteba Ardoz, Jean Tshitshi—orchestre jeunes étoiles des astres
Translations: Sando Marteau, Lord Nassor
Support: Pro Helvetia Swiss Arts Council, Africa Museum Belgium
Archival Material: Museum Africa, Tervuren, Belgium
Learning from Artemisia was originally commissioned by the Lubumbashi Biennale.