DENIS ROCHE DISCUSSES ‘PANCHAEA: IN SEARCH OF AN EQUAL UTOPIA AND A WILLING SUSPENSION OF DISBELIEF’, A SOCIALLY ENGAGED PROJECT MADE IN COLLABORATION WITH BRIAN MAGUIRE, EMMA FINUCANE AND PEOPLE USING THE MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES IN CO. CARLOW (2011 – 2013).
In 2011 I was commissioned by Carlow Arts Office to make a large-scale, socially-engaged art work with people using Carlow Local Authority’s mental health services. The commission’s aim was to bring a hither-to invisible group into relief in the community, so that they could enjoy the citizenship and participation that others take for granted. The commission was supported by an Arts Council Project Award.
In some ways the project developed out of another work of mine, Open Window / A Clinically Useful Artwork? where I engaged with a group of patients in an isolation ward at the National Bone Marrow Transplant Unit, St. James Hospital, Dublin. (1) The concerns of these patients centred on being isolated within the architecture that had been developed to support their treatment. They experienced isolation and trauma as a result of this architecture, an unfortunate but tolerated by-product of a system that only focused on the physical aspects of their disease.
Isolation connected these two projects. I am interested in how human relationships are transformed when they are systematised, particularly in the area of care. What happens when care goes from the one-to-one to the one-to-many, and when it is administered within specific architectural environments? Care can become pathologised, resulting in relationships that serve the system first and the person second. A hospital is an example of architecture that encapsulates a system of caring and modulates the behaviour of the people who inhabit it. (more…)