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Antonín Jirát © 2019

Treatment Through Herpes
Within the paradoxical appears reality.
2017 / object - polystyrene, blue-back print, H3,5 x W2,5m, Malá Lazebnická street, Jihlava, ČR
curator: Jen Kratochvil

It appears that we collectively suffer from a virus infection, an odd type of herpes that under certain light softly glitters and from the distance could be mistaken for the type of make-up that a rookie teenager puts on upon reading the book "How to dress well: your first party is coming". At a party, herpes AKA HSV or Herpes Simplex Virus may develop through uncontrolled physical contact with other excited attendees or appear as a result of the stress that comes with the coming-of-age responsibilities.

Contemporary society is not a teenager per se, it is rather a lovelorn member of the 'Midlife Crisis Club' aspiring to return to his long lost youth. Illusions have passed and skepticism towards any progress outweighs all temporary excitement. We left behind countless anticipated ends of history, all of which revealed themselves as false tricks of a cheap funfair magician. Just a couple days back we have believed in the future - as seen in Steve Jobs' palm when introducing the first iPhone, or when thousands of lights lit up Tahrir Square in Cairo in the opening scene of the Arab Spring. Yet all the lights are powerless against the shadow of the intelligence and government leaks that have shown us why Orwell's turning in his grave.

HSV enters a body and based on its mood evolves in a flu-like primary infection or results in a group of variously shaped blisters. There are two main types. HSV1 appears in toddler age, while HSV2 emerges with the beginning of sexual activity between 14 and 29 years of age. Symptoms fade away once the infection is treated, yet the virus remains stored inside the nervous system in the so called peripheral nerve ganglia, cell clusters where it survives dormant, only to reappear when the immune system is weak due to illness or stress. No matter where the nerve endings - a cheap and trendy Airbnb location for the HSV - are stored, an urban legend says it's nested behind the eye, the centre of our vision, a key sense for our perception of the world, an organ we use to translate everything into comprehensible information. A blind spot of the immune system where - in a shadow of a candle - the virus lives a happy life.

Herpes is not a contemporary being, it is activatied by fear of the future in its made-in-past storage. Bleh - not now, on the day of an important meeting. Prophets of decay of our society agree on the lack of vision for the coming days. Hito Steyrl says: “I think that the storm is no longer coming from the past. Today the storm is blowing from a future that has been depleted of resources and hope and it is driving people back into the past. People are driven towards the womb—or their assumed origins—not the grave.”. Or Nick Srnicek: “Despite the speed with which our world appears to change, we seem to have lost any sence of the future.” And many more.

It almost feels like rewinding slowly back to the beginning of a VSH tape, the image returns to its initiating point, sounds and voices become incomprehensible and you hope everything will remain as you left it, but who knows - maybe the rewind alters something.

Herpes is here. And we must learn to live with it in a longer term than we expected. A never ending enclosed cycle of returnal simillar to that of the Sun's orbit. A circle defined by points of optimism and subsequent disillusion. A post-Brussels gate and a painful ending to the Prague Spring. Sunrise and sunset. The Sun keeps shining, yet underneath the glow lurks an unpleasant surprise, one we eventually learned to get along with.

Treatment through herpes? First of all be careful. Avoid direct contact with an infected person, avoid stressor and first and foremost never talk to people with atopic eczema, use condoms. Eh, you're not gonna run away from it anyway. Get used to it. Herpes treatment is that of aware readiness, one that only strong individuals handle without the constant fear. But don't you worry, it hurts and it's fine.

Jen Kratochvil