Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Artistic film project seeks understanding of psychosis

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A still image from one of the films being screened as part of an art project involving the Te Tuhi gallery in Pakuranga. Photo supplied Artangel

East Auckland’s Te Tuhi contemporary art gallery is helping to bring a film project to New Zealand exploring the subject of mental illness.

Entitled The Directors, it’s a new collaboration between British artist Marcus Coates and five people who have lived experience of psychosis.

The gallery says following a prolonged period of research and development, each of the five directed Coates in a film where he attempted to enact their experiences.

“Mark Banham, Lucy Dempster, Anthony Donohoe, Marcus Gordon, and Stephen Groves each chose a place of significance where they directed Coates to play themselves as they voiced instructions off-camera.

“Commissioned by Artangel in London, UK, and originally screened in five locations in and around Churchill Gardens Estate in the London borough of Pimlico, Te Tuhi’s collaboration with Artangel mirrors the same format and presents the project in five central Auckland locations.”

Coates’ research for the project began in 2017 in the UK and saw him work alongside psychiatrist Dr Isabel Valli, observing her consultations with patients.

The focus of his research considered the dynamics of personal understanding and empathy and the role of the wider community and public attitudes, Te Tuhi says.

The Directors seeks to establish a creative and reciprocal dialogue between Coates and each director; a shared attempt to describe and understand the individuality and complexity of their experiences.

“For both the artists and the directors, initiating this empathetic process was motivated by a need to share the directors’ stories, together with the necessity to confront and reduce public stigma around psychosis.”

Toi Ora Live Arts Trust director Susanne Ritzenhoff says the organisation’s excited to host the screening of one of the films, entitled The Directors: Stephen.

“Mental health distress is much more common and talked about these days, yet it’s still so hard to explain how it impacts individuals.

“Toi Ora is a creative space offering a nurturing and inclusive space for individuals navigating mental distress.

“Feeling safe is crucial for the success of Toi Ora with so many of our participants experiencing deep misunderstandings on a daily basis.

The Directors offers viewers an insight into five individuals’ experiences of mental distress and we hope by showing these films people might develop an increased understanding and empathy for those affected by mental distress.”

Te Tuhi is presenting the project locally in association with Auckland Arts Festival 2024.

It runs from February 24 to March 24 with the films being screened at locations across Auckland.

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