‘Catastrophe’ as a terminology became related to natural disasters only after the Great Lisbon earthquake (1755). Before that event the ‘catastrophe’ was mainly understood as a plot device originating from Greek theatre. It indicated a sudden turn in the course of events usually introduced by an act of God (deus ex machina). With the installation Corrupted Air – Act VI (2019), Herregraven presents a triptych on these intersecting dimensions of ‘catastrophe’. In this context ‘corrupted air’ describes a specific air condition, which is both naturally and morally tainted.
On the ground level of the gallery the work Corrupted Air (2018) is installed consisting of two conjoined lightboxes. Herregraven has compiled a table of all catastrophe bonds (catbonds) dating from 1996 through to 2018 and placed it alongside the first mortality table from John Graunt’s Bills of Mortality published in London in 1662, a mere three years before the outbreak of the Great Plague. The historic mortality table or “List of Casualties” does not incorporate the ages of the deceased, but catalogues the causes of death and thus illuminates the reemergence and distribution of particular symptoms and pandemics. This historic categorization and collection of death cases appear to be a preliminary stage of human impulse to find some sort of indexicality of mortalities.