Germs of Deception, 2005-7

Marchin_Plague_Install_08

This installation chronicles the major hoaxes used over the past century to trick governments into establishing germ warfare programs (primarily by various sectors of the military seeking to increase their budgets); it also documents the tricks used by governments to convince various publics that germ warfare programs were necessary for national security. The installation itself is a performance of one of these cons—the old Serratia-in-the-ventilation-ducts trick: First, spray a harmless bacteria likeSerratia marcescens into the air ducts of a building. Next, show how it spreads throughout the building. Finally, claim that had this been a dangerous bacteria, everyone would have died. Panic ensues; program is established. Do not mention that the actual infection rate would have been far less than the coverage rate, and the mortality rate far less than that.