The Pathogen of War - Immersive Installation

Today, in 2024, Acinetobacter baumannii is one of the most antibiotic resistant pathogens and is estimated to kill between 50,000-100,000 people a year. This interactive work extrapolates from real biography and science to create a speculative but possible near future, through which to explore causes and dangers of antibiotic resistance.

The Pathogen of War takes you forward to a time after the Bio-Rift - the period when all bacteria became resistant to our antibiotics, resulting in the deaths of around half the human population. Set in the future “Museum of Medical Archaeology", the show outlines the causes of the Bio-Rift and explores how war has biological consequences which can threaten the viability of antibiotics, and our health, globally.

Iraqi doctor turned medical anthropologist Dr. Omar Dewachi takes the audience on a personal journey through Iraq’s recent history, and on how Acinetobacter baumannii went from being a relatively benign bacteria, to a “perfect killer”, also known by its US moniker ‘Iraqibacter’ or the ‘invisible enemy’.

The show will reveal the many layers of this bacteria’s social history – from the microscopic to the geopolitical, unearthing how the consequences of war can drive pathogens, which threaten the viability of antibiotics, and our health, globally.

World Premiere at CPH:Dox Inter:Active Exhibition March 2024.

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The Pathogen of War - Immersive Installation
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Multi-media interactive documentary installation.30 mins.

The Pathogen of War is based on the personal story and research of Dr. Omar Dewachi. He is an associate professor of medical anthropology and global health at Rutgers University, New Jersey. His work examines the social, medical, and environmental fallouts of decades of war and violence in Iraq and the broader Middle East.

The United Nations and other international agencies released a report in 2019 warning of the dangers of the rise of antibiotic resistance. If no action is taken, they warned that drug-resistant bacterial diseases could cause 10 million deaths each year by 2050 and this would also cause much damage to the global economy. By 2030, antimicrobial resistance could force up to 24 million people into extreme poverty.

The World Health Organization has classified the superbug Acinetobacter baumannii, as a ‘critical’ threat among its ‘priority pathogens’, a group of bacteria families that pose the greatest threat to human health. It also stands out as one of the most common pathogens associated with military conflicts.

In May 2023, there were news reports that AI had been used to find antibiotics that could treat infections caused by Acinetobacter baumannii.

The solutions put forth to tackle rising antimicrobial resistance fail to take into account the challenges of the health effects of warfare.

To find out more please visit:

Dr. Omar Dewachi 

When Wounds Travel: Chronicles of War Biology East of the Mediterranean

Five ways the war in Gaza is impacting Palestinains’ health

The Rise of Antibiotic Resistance

Armed conflicts and antimicrobial resistance: A deadly convergence

Why Bacteria love war-wounds

Antimicrobial resistance and the Iraq wars: armed conflict as an under investigated pathway with growing significance

Iraqibacter and the Pathologies of Intervention

Scientists use AI to discover new antibiotic to treat deadly superbug

Director: Yasmin Fedda
Writers: Yasmin Fedda, Dan Davies

Creative Technologist: Gavin- Morris / Xavier Velastin
Sound designer and Composition: James Bulley
Touch Designer and GFX: Pierangelo Pirak & Vincenzo Siracusano
Production assistant Fisayo Ademiluyi & Amaya Gonzalez

Set designer Isobel Power Smith
Interactive Consultant/Theatre director - Ryan Van Winkle

Producer - Dan Davies, Black Leaf Films
Executive Producers: Anagram

The Pathogen of War by Yasmin Fedda has been developed with CPH:Lab at CPH:Dox (2021/22), and through a residency at the National Theatre Immsersive Story Telling Studio (NTISS) in 2023, in collaboration with Anagram.

Assistant Producer, National Theatre Immersive Storytelling Studio: Benjamin Smith
Head of Immersive Storytelling Studio: Toby Coffey