Marianne Vitale: WHAT I NEED TO DO IS LIGHTEN THE FUCK UP ABOUT A LOT OF SHIT
548 West 22nd Street, 212-989-7700
January 19 - February 25, 2012
Opening: Thursday, January 19, 6 - 8 PM
“In 1845, slightly over 23% of the inhabitants of the Northeastern United States suffered from what was then commonly referred to as “Combustivism” which, according to the DSM-IV-R, is currently known as Schizoaffective Disorder. Symptoms included hallucinations, delusions and manic episodes. Men and women alike would forget who they were, what they did for a living, who their spouses and children were and, would more often than not, set out on violent rampages that led to arson, beatings, and property damage.
During the extraordinarily violent month of April 1846, 25 people were injured during a melee in Boston. In response, President James K. Polk gave a speech to Congress in which he voiced his concern for the turmoil sweeping the nation by stating “if this madness doesn’t stop, I will have to use the big stick of the law and beat back.” Murders and violent crimes were so rampant that martial law was instituted in the states of Massachusetts, New York, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia. There were unsubstantiated rumors that Combustivism was caused by dust in homes, by letters and the saliva used to seal envelopes (the theory held that when the saliva dried and the letter was opened it would emit a caustic human dust that was believed to also be the root cause of insomnia and fevered states of aggression). Other causes were said to be brought on by the ink used to print newspapers, by food grown in eastern soil and most peculiarly, ornithologists of the period claimed that cardinals had an extreme alkalinity in their droppings, which was claimed to “dry” the brains of humans who happened to inhale the dried remnants of cardinal feces" - Todd Colby, Brooklyn, New York 2011