Les Fleurs de la Maladie: Art installation from recycled COVID-19 tests

06 Feb 2024

The installation Les Fleurs de la Maladie by Subset was awarded the Jury Prize at the 17th Festival des Architectures Vives in Montpellier

Photo credit: Paul Kozlowski - Photoarchitecture

Subset proudly introduces its Les Fleurs de la Maladie art installation, winner of the Jury Prize at the 17th Festival des Architectures Vives in Montpellier, France.

What value do we place on health after over three years of the COVID-19 pandemic? How different are our personal experiences and memories from when contact restrictions, or even nightly curfews, as well as frequent testing and monitoring, provided a strict framework in which to move?

As an interpretation of the festival theme of Sacrality, Hannah Fuchsenberger, Anne-Fleur Ising, Atidh Jonas Langbein, Gianna Neumann, and Helio Philipp Spiess conceived an installation that provokes a personal and emotional engagement with the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic through an aesthetic, sensual experience. Like white flowers, 1,482 COVID-19 test cassettes float above a blue platform. Les Fleurs de la Maladie - Flowers of the Disease - asks what value we attribute to our own and public health in general.

In the last few years of the pandemic, COVID-19 rapid tests have become a constant companion and a guarantee of safe contact, health, and a clear conscience. The security that the tests should provide in everyday life during the pandemic contrasts with the lightness and volatility of flowers, which sway in the wind or stand still, depending on the weather. Although the result of a COVID-19 test can provide momentary certainty, health, or, in this case, the field, is always in a fragile state that can be thrown off balance at any time by external factors. More than ever, health has been defined as the greatest sanctuary of our society, which stood still to save it.

The installation was constructed mainly from scrap material in a representative courtyard in Montepellier’s historic centre. Twelve Eiermann table tops, which would have been discarded at the Bauhaus University Weimar due to heavy wear and tear, were manually sanded, repainted, and screwed onto a substructure of wooden slats in the courtyard. In a clear geometric grid, 1,482 corona tests were applied to the panels on 1mm metal rods. They were donated by a school in Munich that had purchased them for testing pupils, but they expired before their planned use and would have been subsequently disposed of.

By redesigning and reusing the materials, the installation 'Les Fleurs de la Maladie' thematizes environmentally conscious and sustainable approaches in the arts, while opening up this kind of space for wide-ranging interpretations and encouraging viewers to reflect on the value of health in our society. The flowers further invited visitors to share their memories and experiences of the pandemic.


Technical sheet

1,482 expired COVID-19 tests
1,482 steel bars
12 reused Egon Eiermann tables
Pinewood substructure