Lab.50. 2009

Source, Pilgrimage and Offerings.

There is some consensus as to theory of how AIDS was transmitted by chimpanzees to humans, but there is no consensus about how or when this came about. The first case of a human becoming infected concerned a man from Kinshasa, present-day capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo. The blood sample had been taken in 1959, long before scientists knew anything about the virus.

In 1992 a new theory on the source suggested that the transmission might have occurred between 1958 and 1959 in the Laboratoire Médical de Stanleyville, a medical laboratory built in 1957 in the city of Stanleyville, in what was then the Belgian Congo and suddenly shut down in 1960 at the outset of the war for independence.

In this laboratory research was carried out on such things as a vaccine for poliomyelitis and that is why living cells extracted from the kidneys of chimpanzees were used. This vaccine was injected into over one million people both in the Belgian Congo and in neighbouring countries.

Beyond the veracity of the different theories of the source, these acts suppose a contemporary depiction of the horror witnessed by Marlow during his journey up the river Congo to the very heart of Africa, where Kurtz was, quite close to the Stanley falls, the very place where the city of Stanleyville was founded known nowadays by the name of Kisangani, where the ruins of Laboratorie Médical de Stanleyville lie.

Self-portrait with HVI. PL3. Hospital Germans Trias i Pujol, Badalona 2008

Pilgrimage to the laboratory: from Barcelona to Kisangani.

Building of  Faculte de Medecine de Kisangani old Laboratoire Medical de Stanleyville. República Democràtica del Congo, 2009.

Thanks to: Carme Altayo. Veterinarios sin fronteras, Barcelona.Olivier Maloba. Espace Culturel Ngoma, Kisangani. Miguel Angel Martinez. Fundació IrsiCaixa de l’Hospital Germans Trias i Pujol de Barcelona. Juana Díez. Virology group, DCEXS. Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona