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FACT Exhibition about mental illness in the digital age

by Faye Smith. Published Wed 18 Feb 2015 11:19

The exhibition Group Therapy: Mental distress in a digital age will be showing at FACT (Foundation for Art and Creative Technology) between 5 March - 17 May 2015. Originating from FACT’s extensive work within mental health and wellbeing, the exhibition explores the complex relationship between technology, society, and mental health.

Works by artists, designers and researchers including new commissions from The Vacuum Cleaner, Katriona Beales, Kate Owens & Neeta Madahar and Quintan Ana Wikswo as well as restaged work from Ubermorgen will encourage visitors to rethink their understanding of mental health and wellbeing, by asking how far our personal wellbeing is related to the values of the society we live in and the impact of new technologies.

Vanessa Bartlett, who is co-curating the exhibition with FACT’s Director Mike Stubbs, says ‘Group Therapy proposes that art and the creative use of digital devices can challenge dated ideas about mental illness, helping to reduce stigma and encourage open discussion about our personal wellbeing.’

The exhibition design, created by researcher and PhD Student at Royal College of Art Benjamin Koslowski, is carefully considered to evoke self-reflection and introspection by highlighting the threshold between the private, individual experience of the exhibition and the societal dynamics behind mental health issues.

Group Therapy explores the past, present and future of mental health, and includes Superflex’s video installation The Financial Crisis, which explores how modern economic systems have the capacity to leave us all feeling insecure and vulnerable.

By showcasing spaces formerly reserved for the mentally ill, Quintan Ana Wikswo provides insights into the historical context of mental illness and its surrounding power structures. Dora Garcia's film The Deviant Majority features an interview with Carmen Roll formally of the German Socialist Patient's Collective (SPC) who in the 1970s argued that capitalism is responsible for manifestations of madness. An electroconvulsive therapy machine shows how technology is not a new concept in mental health settings.

Part of the exhibition is also an interactive archive showing 20 years of FACT projects for participants with mental health issues, in which artists have been working closely with the community in creative projects as well as created digital tools that support mental health. These projects have been organised in collaboration with various mental health organisations, including Mersey Care NHS Trust.

Part of the exhibition is also an interactive archive showing 20 years of FACT projects for participants with mental health issues, in which artists have been working closely with the community in creative projects as well as created digital tools that support mental health. These projects have been organised in collaboration with various mental health organisations, including Mersey Care NHS Trust.

Exhibition highlights include:

The Vacuum Cleaner's major new commission Madlove.

Kate Owens & Neeta Madahar animation Me and The Black Dog.

Moving image and audio combined with sculptural elements by Katriona Beale and Henrietta Bowden-Jones.

Quintan Ana Wikswo's photographic series of American asylum buildings.

Ubermorgen’s Psychosis Sensation - a piece of software that allows users to ‘self diagnose’ and print prescriptions for various mental health conditions.

George Khut’s The Heart Library where emotionally-mediated changes in the user’s heart-rate influence the colour and sound of a large, ceiling mounted video projection.

Melanie Manchot's Twelve, the multi-channel video installation.

Dora Garcia's film The Deviant Majority which addresses revolutionary reforms in psychiatry that grew out of the political turmoil of the late 1960s.

Lauren Moffatt's 3D stereoscopic film Not Eye tells the story of a woman who makes an elaborate helmet with inbuilt cameras, to cope with the anxiety and paranoia created by a society saturated with images.

Superflex’s video installation The Financial Crisis illustrates the 2008 crash from a therapeutic perspective and highlights the correlation between financial risk, anxiety and emotional distress.

Jennifer Kanary Nikolova's Labyrinth Psychotica employs digital technology to allow audiences to experience, in a creative and engaged manner, how psychosis blends realities and perceptions.

Made possible through support from MYA and the Liverpool Children's Emotional health and Wellbeing Partnership, an artwork will be co-produced by artist Erica Scourti and a group of 13 to 18 year olds through FACT's young people's programme Freehand.


Opening hours: Tuesday – Sunday 11am – 6pm
Tickets: Free entry
Address: FACT, 88 Wood Street, Liverpool, L1 4DQ
Phone: +44(0) 151 707 4444
Website: fact.co.uk






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