Jana Vanecek

Win Your Baby’s Life Back Today [The Pharma Lottery]

Technique / Material: Plot on 5 mm Forex | Size: 110cm x 110cm | Edition: 3 + 2AP text, lecture performance with Johannes Hoffmann | 100 lottery tickets | QR code with are.na channel with research material

In recent years, the high drug prices in the countries of the global north have by far exceeded the investments in research and development made by the pharmaceutical and biotech industries. This new type of price policy has lead to a significant burden on the tax and premium-financed Health insurance system. For this reason, drug therapies are being increasingly “rationed” in Switzerland. In 2017, more than 600 drugs were given a so-called “limitatio”, including some life saving cancer drugs. The limitatio stipulates that only patients with advanced disease or for whom no other treatment is suitable are paid for the drug. Nevertheless, it has already happened that health insurance companies refused to cover the costs despite the clear legal situation. As a result, more and more people are resorting to medical crowdfunding in order to be able to afford the medicine that is vital for them. This is no longer an American phenomenon. But Big Pharma has also reacted to its own exorbitant prices: with a lottery.

Both the lottery procedure and the persistent invocation of self-responsibility by means of crowdfunding are extremely cynical in the situation of a fatal illness. In addition, these methods obscure the true facts: The high drug prices that arise from a capitalist mode of production. To be self-sufficient and to conform to the liberal ideal of the independent individual is simply impossible in such a case. In the age of diverse technological possibilities, health shouldn‘t be a matter of luck either. Health is a matter that cannot be negotiated by individuals, but only in a social context. If the economisation of life itself and the simultaneous devaluation of social responsibility are to some extent entangled, this can lead to serious consequences that make self-determination of life impossible.

The work on this topic was specially designed for the new exhibition platform “Bonus Track of the Kunsthaus Aussersihl”. The showroom was a shop window near Helvetiaplatz. In the private sector, shop windows are of great importance for the presentation of sales objects. Shop windows are one of the most effective advertising media.

This object- and site-specific element was taken up and used in the picture element of the work. Although it is an artistic research work, it plays with the attention economy of passers-by and is initially perceived as advertising. But when passers-by use the QR code will they be connected to an are.na channel. This channel contains newspaper clippings and crowdfunding videos as well as a text that formed the basis of a five-minute lecture performance at the opening.

The lecture performance was a collaboration with the actor Johannes Hoffmann.