Paper Mountain - October 5, 2017
As the General Manager of Paper Mountain, I would like to share with you my perspective, and where Paper Mountain stands with the marriage equality postal survey.
Writing this saddens me. It does so, because I cannot fathom how hard it must be, for my friends, artists and colleagues to be the target of spite and hate.
I don’t need to tell you that this is a waste of money. Or that it’s a waste of time. Or that this postal vote is nonbinding. We know this.
I don’t need to tell you how disgraceful it is, when members of our parliament (not all) whom we’ve elected have put this back onto Australians to decide how people show their love.
What I want you to consider, is the actual cost of this survey.
It’s not just $122M. It’s the cost of paying senators, who we voted to represent Australians, but instead debated the issue over years, only to place it back on us.
It’s the cost of time to Australians who are debating, discussing and rallying when our parliament could have just made a decision.
It’s the emotional cost experienced by vulnerable members of our community.
It’s the emotional cost of having communities divided. Families divided. Individuals left hurting and lost – when instead we could be celebrating.
At Paper Mountain, our aim is to always support the creative development of our artists. Diversity and equality are core principles.
It drives the most compelling conversations about arts and culture, inspiring an atmosphere of real creativity and makes us a stronger community for it.
So, the answer is obvious – vote yes. Please vote yes.
Yes, so all couples who wish to express their love through marriage can do so.
Yes, so everyone has the same basic and fundamental rights they deserve – whether in being united in marriage, or being the next of kin for when times get tough.
Voting yes does not take away anything from anyone else. It pushes as towards a more inclusive, fair and equitable society. Striving for equality will always build a more connected community.
For as much hurt that is happening right now, I have seen far, far more love. I have seen the blessings of honest empathy and care. I have seen people open themselves up to saying “You’re not alone”, because we are in this together.
By voting yes, you will mark your place in Australian history, because we will make history with this win. And when we win, myself and the team at Paper Mountain will dance and celebrate as we always do as a creative community.
Paper Mountain - August 11, 2017
Order/Disorder aims to re-present mental illness outside of hegemonic, often stigmatized discourses put forth by science, popular culture and the arts.
This practice-led research identifies that the current consensus within western scientific and cultural views towards mental illness, is that it is an undesirable adjunct of mental health. In this light, mental illness fails to comply with a suggested notion of ‘normality’ and ‘health’. Order/Disorder subsequently employs experimental analogue photography to pictorially re-present mental illness in order to depart from these discourses. Broadly, these experimental processes can be classified as either environmental or chemical, and are designed to reflect the interplay of nature and nurture as aspects of mental illness and an individual’s innate qualities.
One significant aspect of this experimentation involves exposing photographic material to the pharmaceutical compounds used to treat Bipolar Affective Disorder. In this regard the photographic material becomes an analogue for the human mind where the efficacy of mood stabilising, anti-depressant and anti-psychotic drugs can be explored visually and poetically. The results are abstract, ambiguous and emotive images that I interpret through a perceptive viewpoint which seeks ‘beauty’ in obscurantism – suggested in qualities such as humility, asymmetry, imperfection, and transience. Rather than deem these irregularities as photographic flaws, or qualities that require ‘treatment’ and fixing, I suggest they are profound and unique formations that demand foregrounding.
Inspired by the diagnosis of Bipolar within my personal family context, much of the impetus behind this visual work comes from the direct experience of negative assumptions, misinformation, judgement, and misunderstanding towards individuals with what is medically classified as mental ‘illness’. In an attempt to challenge society’s hierarchy of truth and normality, whereby the mentally ill are presented as failing to conform with the strictures of normality, this work suggests that difference does not equate to failure. Rather, that the flaw equates to obscure beauty. I hope to diminish the mentality of us versus them reinforced through western diagnostic texts (i.e. DSM-IV 2000; ICD-10 1992) and the oversaturation of negative pictorial representations in popular culture which has historically lead to wide-scale and deep-rooted stigmatization.
Central to this visual practice is a process that analogously links materials to the mind. Like the minds of individuals, analogue photographic material is shaped by the chemical and environmental factors it is subjected or exposed to. Through practice, the internal processes and reactions become tangible to the visible exterior. Importantly however, the results of this can be witnessed visually as opposed to individual subjective interpretation of the ‘patient’.
Order/Disorder attempts to dissolve the binary opposition of madness vs normality, or rather, the myth of a dualistic reality. Rather than comply with the utterances of illness, the research examines a space in-between these extremes where the ‘flaw’ can be read as something else. The importance of the flaw in this way, is that it aims not to shock, repulse or deter the viewer, but rather to captivate and fascinate the eye. Rather than drawing on the peculiarity of ambiguity in a way of presenting difference in light of failure, the ‘fearful unknown’ or freakishness – this work can be seen as allowing for this ‘beauty’ and intrigue in strangeness. In this regard the research has made new insights into mental illness available.
On a personal level, the crux of my research — a desire to suggest that there is not necessarily ‘truth’ in duality, but rather, there is interconnectedness between all things – has been affirmed. Between materials and the mind, the ‘normal’ and mentally ‘ill’, you and I. There is ambiguity and non-truths present in all facets of life. Hoping to go beyond certain stigmatised discourses, I feel this work can suggest that, seeing through a sympathetic mind-set — acknowledging the abnormalities, flaws and impermanence as part of reality — that we can redefine normality, perfection and worth.
Order/Disorder aims to question what we know, think, see and say to be normal. It aims to seek beauty in obscurantism and question the idea of the ‘flaw’. Mental health is but a performance. As put by Petteri Pietikainen in his text ‘Madness’:
Behind psychological definitions, medical diagnoses and social labels there is a whole kaleidoscope of human experience — all possible variations of normality and deviance, familiarity and strangeness. In a mode of thinking that emphasises the unity of human nature, madness is not so much otherness as sameness, even if a somewhat exaggerated and unusual kind of sameness (Pietikainen 2015, 1).
Order/Disorder exhibits 12 – 27 August 2017 at Paper Mountain.
Image: Isabelle Osborne, Order / Disorder 093 (anti-psychotic) (detail), 2016, archival inkjet print. 39cm x 61cm.