During the spring of 2020, in Toronto, David Cayley questions the Covid-19 pandemic and the way it is dealt with by Western countries. Based on the work of philosopher Ivan Illich, he asks if “the ontology of systems” we live in could have been the cause of this time of crisis. He warns against a certain denial of death, which “hides the other things that are going on – the mass experiment in social control and social compliance, the legitimation of telepresence as a viable mode of sociability and instruction, the increased surveillance, the normalization of biopolitics, and the reinforcement of risk awareness as a foundation of social life.”
At the same time in Paris, following the introduction of lockdown measures to control the pandemic, the streets suddenly emptied. Sanitary measures, enforced by the police system have allowed the revving up – met with little resistance – of its security policy, which was introduced a few years prior with the Vigipirate plan (national antiterrorism security alert) among other things. The photographer Myr Muratet documented the silent city in his own way.
Nouveau Palais is a french publishing house with documentary photography as main subject.
We value the text and the way it can work with pictures.
Design : Juliette Duhé et Sébastien Riollier
Code : Élie Quintard
April 8, 2020 (extrait)
Last week I began an essay on the current pandemic in which I tried to address what I take to be the central question that it raises: Is the massive and costly effort to contain and limit the harm that the virus will do the only choice we have? Is it no more than an obvious and unavoidable exercise of prudence undertaken to protect the most vulnerable? Or is it a disastrous effort to maintain control of what is obviously out of control, an effort which will compound the damage being done by the disease with new troubles that will reverberate far into the future? I hadn’t been writing for long before I began to realize that many of the assumptions I was making were quite remote from those being expressed all around me. These assumptions had mainly come, I reflected, from my prolonged conversation with the work of Ivan Illich. What this suggested was that, before I could speak intelligibly about our present circumstances, I would first have to sketch the attitude towards health, medicine and well-being that Illich developed over a lifetime of reflection on these themes. Accordingly, in what follows, I will start with a brief account of the evolution of Illich’s critique of bio-medicine and then try to answer the questions I just posed in this light..