Saint Louis University

MOCRA presents a multimedia installation that explores one of the darkest chapters in American medical and scientific history.

The Greater Good
An Artist's Contemporary View of the Tuskegee Syphilis Study


February 23 - May 5, 2002

extended through August 9, 2002
     free public opening reception with the artist  Saturday, February 23, 5:00-7:30 p.m.


"The Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment: A Study That Should Never Have Occurred"
a lecture by civil rights attorney Fred D. Gray

Tuesday, April 30   7:30 p.m.
click here for more information


The Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment: A University Response
A panel discussion approaching the subject from a diversity of disciplines

Saturday, May 4   1:00 p.m.
click here for more information


General Exhibition Information
Hours: Tues - Sun, 11 am - 4 pm
Directions and parking information
Group visit information


Tony Hooker - Room with Rear Window, 2000. 

Tony Hooker, Room with Rear Window, 2000.
C-print. Courtesy of the artist.
This is a story of good intentions gone awry. Of small lies. Of deceit. Of suffering and heartbreak. Of questionable ethics. Of entanglements small and large. Of racism.

And perhaps, most importantly, loss of trust among people, their community, and their government.

And what belief was used to justify all this: The doctors said that if a few had to suffer for the greater good of the rest it was worth it!

-- from the artist's statement
About the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment
The Tuskegee Experiment began in 1932 when the United States Public Health Service initiated a study of syphilis in African American males in Macon County, Alabama. With whatever intentions the study was begun, it evolved into a 40-year study of untreated syphilis in 412 African American men that likely resulted directly in the deaths of at least 28 of the subjects (who were never told what was wrong with them), despite the availability of penicillin during the latter years of the trials. The legacy of the study--exposed to the country in 1972 by an Associated Press reporter, acting on information from a Public Health Service employee--includes a lingering mistrust of the government and medical com-munity on the part of many African Americans, and a marked silence from the doctors and government agencies involved on the ethical, moral, and humanitarian implications of the study.

About the exhibition
Tony Hooker's exhibition tells a story not well known to many Americans, despite a play and film on the subject in recent years and a presidential apology in 1997. The Greater Good explores the history of the experiment in a multimedia way, by means of photography, video, sculpture, poetry and music. The cumulative effect is powerful and sobering. Because of the moral, ethical, medical, legal, historical, cultural, and racial dimensions of Hooker's artistic reflections, an interfaith contemporary art museum at a Catholic university seems a most appropriate setting in which to experience the exhibition. It is our hope to encourage dialogue in the many schools and departments of the University, and in the larger metropolitan area as well. We must as a community assess the ramifications of the Tuskegee Experiment in our contemporary culture and work together to insure that such gravely misguided decisions not happen again.

About the artist
Tony Hooker is an artist from San Francisco, CA. He received his MFA in Photography from the San Francisco Art Institute in 1995. While his artwork is strongly based in photography, it frequently includes other media such as music, video, and installation motifs. His subject matter generally incorporates a social theme, asking the viewer to reexamine some well-founded ethical or moral principle.


Additional information

The Tuskegee Syphilis Study on Wikipedia

A Tuskegee Syphilis Study timeline, on the CDC website

Tuskegee University website

"Bad Blood" symposium at the University of Virginia

*****
The Greater Good in the media
Tony Hooker - X-Ray Room, 2000. 

Tony Hooker, X-Ray Room, 2000.
C-print. Courtesy of the artist.