Lisa Erdman Performing false hope
Ethical outcomes of fictitious pharmaceutical advertising as a public art intervention


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.

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Size (width x height)
176 x 250
softcover, adhesive bound / PDF

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