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How space gets occupied is inevitably bound up with cultural politics. For example: in psychiatry different states of mind are seen as states of health that need to be treated, whereas in the public gallery different states of mind are seen as the creative forces that generate the artwork. A question we must therefore ask ourselves is, in the realms of art, does mental illness actually exist?
In this talk I wish to address some of the cultural issues around mental illness and draw on my experiences of the community arts movement, squatting, R D Laing, the Philadelphia Association, therapeutic households and social phenomenology. Here the arts are seen as ordinary in the ‘everydayness’ of their experience and practice. It was this ethos between 1988 - 2010 that informed my work with Studio Upstairs in developing a therapeutic arts community.
Keywords: Therapeutic arts, phenomenology, R D Laing, mental illness, art, culture
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