Denervation

Every human body is marked by cultural norms and social practices external to them. What varies is the extent to which technology is embedded in these systems — and the ways in which bodies and selves are subject to class and other inequalities.

Denervation is set in a society that believes that beauty cannot exist without youth. An “affective capital” arises, attaching to and amplifying existing social hierarchies when an exclusive med-spa thrives in an industry town from which its primary beauty product, Botox, is sourced. Working in a regulatory blind spot and driven by high demand, counterfeiters produce an unauthorized surfeit of the product. The resulting proliferation has made its deadly source, Botulinum toxin A, easily available, causing a series of airborne botulism outbreaks.

Using the town’s plaza space to play out the repercussions, Denervation dramatizes the impact of this unsecured supply chain, giving us a glimpse of the lives of the town’s residents. It aims to demonstrate how the most valuable commodity isn’t the counterfeit product or the final end-user, but an oft-overlooked one: the air we breathe, the very basis of our survival.