Metaphor and Illness: Mariam Ghani and guests

Wed. Apr 3, 2019 at 6:30pm EDT
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With daily news about the spread of viruses, a measles outbreak, and superbugs, how does an artist respond?

Mariam Ghani, artist-in-residence, filmmaker
Jayne Raper, professor of biological sciences, Hunter College
Rodrick Wallace, epidemiology research scientist, New York State Psychiatric Institute
Deborah Wallace, author and ecology researcher

Contagious Cities, an international cultural project taking place in Berlin, Geneva, Hong Kong, and New York commemorates the centenary of the 1918 flu pandemic through cultural programs and exhibitions in an effort to raise awareness about epidemic preparedness. As part of this conversation, Afghani multi-media artist Mariam Ghani’s film “Dis-Ease” investigates how the linguistic and visual metaphors we use to understand illness have evolved over time, and whether changes in how we speak about diseases affect how we treat them.

Ghani, whose film was part of a recent exhibition at the Museum of the City of New York, and whose work has been shown at the Guggenheim, MoMA, the National Gallery, and elsewhere is the artist-in-residence at The New York Public Library and the Graduate Center, The City University of New York. She is also the daughter of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani. Following a short screening of her film, Ghani will be joined by guests whose work touches on issues the film raises about science, the history and philosophy of medicine, and biopolitics. The screening and discussion are held in conjunction with the Library’s exhibition, Mapping Contagion: Representing Infectious Disease in New York City.

Those interested in discussing research methods with an emphasis on cartography are invited to join the Mapping Contagion symposium which will be held prior to the panel discussion on April 3. More information and a link to free registration for the symposium can be found here.

Supported by Wellcome, as part of Contagious Cities.

For free events, we generally overbook to ensure a full house. Priority will be given to those who have registered in advance, but registration does not guarantee admission. All registered seats are released shortly before start time, and seats may become available at that time. A standby line will form one hour before the program.

Please send all press inquiries (photo, video, interviews, audio-recording, etc.) at least 24-hours before the day of the program to Sara Beth Joren at For all other inquiries, please contact

ASL interpretation and real-time (CART) captioning available upon request. Please submit your request at least two weeks in advance by emailing

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Venue Details
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Wachenheim Trustees Room (2nd Floor) The New York Public Library, Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, 42nd Street & 5th Avenue
New York, NY 10018