Breaking a stranger’s fall or tracing the edges of nowhere

The series, ‘Breaking a stranger’s fall' or 'Tracing the edges of nowhere', is about coming face-to-face with mental illness. Through performance, self-portraiture and symbolism, the work emphasizes how, more than genetics, a mental health crisis is about environmental factors such as isolation, loneliness and alienation. With a sibling diagnosed with bipolar disorder, I am using my own experience as their carer, as well as dealing with my own anxiety about their condition, in order to examine the ways in which the development of the 'self ' is disrupted by mental illness. By using the symbol of the mask, but also by refusing the gaze, the series looks at the slow erosion of identity that is part of the pathology of mental disorders, dealt with by an underfunded health system solely through medication, and making other more integrative treatments a luxury. In exploring the impact of a debilitating mental illness on a sense of ‘self’, the work focuses on the ways in which our sense of belonging unravels when 'others' are no longer there; when, in the absence of a place to call ‘home’, the feeling of isolation and loneliness are the only things recognizable in the world around us, and a sense of place slowly dissolves. By counter-posing the images of the ‘unrecognizable self’ against landscapes that are not the tidy, comfortable and safe spaces, so usually represented as typical English cultural geography, I am highlighting the creeping feelings of anxiety and uneasiness that emerge as, through the lens of mental illness, the individual becomes a stranger, not only to loved ones, but even to oneself. The work seeks to expose the edges of the picture-perfect vistas. From the decaying constructs of a powerful industrial past to the wild and threatening wilderness, the landscapes were chosen specifically to mirror the edges of psychological panoramas tinged by poor mental health. An ongoing work, this series is under continuous transformation and recontextualization as time passes and my own understanding of mental health evolves. Through it, in a post COVID normality, I hope to open up a discussion about the perils of a bio-bio-bio approach to mental illness, and the importance and urgency of a bio-psychosocial approach that should and must become the default approach for all, irrespective of economic and social status.



The broader theme of my practice is identity. 

In some of my work I experimented with masks. 

You can see here some of those experiments.

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