The power of a preferred narrative: we think we know what madness is until we look in the mirror. A problematic disorder to be medicated for productivity, or a natural diversity that holds hands with unfiltered truths, a different lens, a secret pot of magic?
We used to think it came from the moon, or was this just another
obsessive-compulsive fairy story?
When we see our reflection in the mirror we see a history of
contradictory narratives. We see default narrative of behavioral normalcy
and conformity as safe and reliable, and the madness in the asylum
as an unwelcome and problematic disorder to be controlled and medicated
to social and financial productivity or excluded, isolated and demonised
as not fit for human purpose. Behind that we see a wider history of
demonisation, forced homogenisation and exploitation of natural human
and bio diversity for economic efficiency gains and eternal growth.
Or we see an alternative narrative, madness as a natural human diversity
like hair or skin colour, gender or sexuality. A different lens on the world
that, attended and supported in its natural state, can offer a potentially
transformative seeing, a telling of ‘innocent truths’ from outside the dominant
social narrative and prism. A valuable and natural mental diversity that has
historically been vital to creativity and innovation in society and civilization
We see the loops and links between madness, art, dreams and magic of
Leonora Carrington’s ‘Milk of Dreams’, voices innocent of the discursive web
of preferred social expectation that has systematically compressed diversities
in order to march us extinction. How mad is that?
Old Polish saying, if it doesn’t make sense it’s about money
Is this the whole story? Welcome to Madnicity, a new off-Biennale pavilion
set among the grounds and niches of a former insane asylum on San Servolo
island, a collaboration between Dominik Lejman, Bianca O’Brien, Mario Caeiro
and Richard Hallward. A stone’s throw across the Venetian Lagoon from the
Giardini Biennale itself in Venice, a pavilion without walls or borders highlighting
our history of exclusion and compression of mental diversity for homogenized
productivity expectation and economic gains, where the hydrating magic and
laughter of art and the dehydrating, destructive magic of money hold hands.