Anxiety Arts Festival

This June the inaugural Anxiety Arts Festival takes place across London, aiming to use the arts to raise awareness of mental distress.

Bonnie Camplin, Offending Article, 2012, ink on paper
Bonnie Camplin, Offending Article, 2012, ink on paper

Anxiety Arts Festival takes places in various venues across London – including the Barbican, South London Gallery, National Portrait Gallery, Freud Museum, Wigmore Hall and Dulwich Picture Gallery – and will feature visual art, film, performance, music, dance, theatre and talks.

It has been curated by the Mental Health Foundation and core funded by the Maudsley Charity.

Praline's Anxiety Arts Festival branding
Praline’s Anxiety Arts Festival branding

The branding was designed by Praline, using an identity that can be dismantled and reassembled, aiming to ‘convey the tension and distorted reality’ of anxiety.

David Lamelas, Reading Film from 'Knots' by R.D.Laing, 1970, film still.

Source: Courtesy of David Lamelas and LUX, London

David Lamelas, Reading Film from ‘Knots’ by R.D.Laing, 1970, film still.

The festival organisers point out the links between mental health issues and the arts. ‘The emergence of psychoanalysis at the turn of the twentieth century had a profound impact on artists who were breaking away from classical conventions of representing the world’, they say.

‘This new insight into the psyche influenced artistic vision by focusing 
on the unique perception that comes from individual experience… The festival’s [programme] looks at the relationship between anxiety and modernity and how feeling anxious has become part of our contemporary condition.’

Javier Tellez, Caligari und der Schlafwandler (Caligari and the Sleepwalker), 2008, film still

Source: Courtesy the artist and Galerie Peter Kilchmann, Zurich

Javier Tellez, Caligari und der Schlafwandler (Caligari and the Sleepwalker), 2008, film still

Among the visual arts highlights are the University of the Arts London’s Anxious Practices exhibition, which features sensory design, participatory art, and artworks inspired by psychiatric archives.

The Freud Museum in north London will be hosting Charms and Other Anxious Objects, a show by Paul Coldwell that looks at how our relationship with objects and the importance we project onto them reflects an anxious state of mind; while group exhibition Dizziness of freedom, at Bermondsey Project, examines how the multifarious choices contemporary society gives us can be liberating but also difficult and bewildering.

Eva Kotátková, Asylum, detail, 2013, mixed media, dimensions variable. Installation view The Encyclopedic Palace, 55thVenice Biennale
Eva Kotátková, Asylum, detail, 2013, mixed media, dimensions variable. Installation view The Encyclopedic Palace, 55thVenice Biennale

We’re also intrigued by the designs by Kathrin Böhm, who has created a number of contraptions such as the Money Distribution Machine, Chocolate Converter, Let-Others-be-Nice-To-Me Device and a Perfect
Baby Dispenser. These were created from conversations between the artist and service users at Three Cs, an organisation for people with learning disabilities and mental health challenges in Peckham.

Latifa Laâbissi, Écran Somnambule

Source: Photo Margot Videcoq

Latifa Laâbissi, Écran Somnambule

The film programme features Tarkovsky’s 1952 science fiction  film Solaris, a ‘journey into inner and outerspace’; Pressure, Horace Ové’s  1976 film about a young Black teenager in  a white-dominate 1970s west London and Control, Anton Corbjin’s biopic about Joy division singer Ian Curtis, who committed suicide in 1980.

The Headless Woman ­ dir Lucretia Martel, Argentina 2008 (La Mujer sin Cabeza)
The Headless Woman ­ dir Lucretia Martel, Argentina 2008 (La Mujer sin Cabeza)

Anxiety Arts Festival takes places in various venues across London throughout June. For more information visit http://anxiety2014.org/

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