Ethical outcomes of fictitious pharmaceutical advertising as a public art intervention
Performing false hope
What is the responsibility of the artist in public art
interventions? Which ethical responsibilities arise in art practice, within the
context of academic research? How might these concerns affect artistic
decisions? These questions become central to contemporary, socially engaged art
practice. In addition, as artists and artist-researchers increasingly borrow
from commercial media in their practices, issues of representation and audience
reception become paramount. Artistic decisions become ethical decisions.
Performing false hope examines the unexpected ethical issues and emotional
responses that arose from Finnexia®, an advertisement campaign for a
fictitious medication that helps people learn the Finnish language. Presented
as a live performance intervention in the Helsinki Railway Station, Finnexia
aimed to offer a space for public dialogue about the foreigner in Finland. The
performance also presented a satirical commentary on overmedicalization and the
proliferation of pill-based medical treatments. Finnexia served as the primary
art production of Erdman’s artistic research.
Lisa Erdman examines the ethical and legal consequences of generating false hope in the public eye. In this
case, ‘false hope’ refers to the scenario in which some audience members expressed a growing sense of belief in the
existence of Finnexia. The book
reveals the paradoxes, insights, and potential risks that may arise through
artistic interventions in public space.