R0 – Drowning by Numbers | CAMeC, La Spezia – online

Eleonora Roaro’s live-stream performance “Drowning by Numbers”, staged on the last day of Italian lockdown (3rd of May 2020) during CAMeC museum’s opening hours (11 am – 6 pm +1 GMT) at the artist’s house in Milan, questions themes such as digital virality and misinformation during the COVID-19 pandemic, defined by WHO also as an infodemic. The title, taken from Peter Greenaway’s movie from 1988, emphasizes the bewilderment caused by the excess of fake news, unreliable information and, above all, biased numbers, which are often partial and out of context instead of being communicated with statistical data and scientific rigour.
Throughout the seven hours of the online performance, the artist says out loud the number of the performance’s current visualisations: in this way she creates a bond with the audience, as the number is related to who has just logged in during the live-stream.
As R0 – the reproduction number – is an important concept in epidemiology and a crucial part of public health planning during the outbreak, the artist spread the word about the performance as a text-chain by sending a message via WhatsApp to ten people, in which she invites them to share it with at least ten more people. Instead of being communicated institutionally, the art event is conveyed as if it was a conspiracy theory with pathos and emojis. Hence the project aims also to question whether or not contemporary art can go viral, and whether these theoretical discourses are doomed to be only self-referential niches.

Thanks to Cinzia Compalati (CAMeC’s curator) and Chiara Serri (press-office).