Margins + The Mentally Ill as Simulacra

Margins | Frederick Cummings

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The Mentally Ill as Simulacra | Quin Martins

 

Durational performance by Bobbi Kozinuk, 7 – 9pm

Performance by Shagatha Crusty, 9pm

Frederick Cummings and Quin Martins both deal with ideas about mental illness and its stigmatization within our culture, each of them using a multitude of mediums and distinctly oppositional approaches. Cummings uses homoerotic and sexually charged imagery to jar his audience, and Martins seeks a more wryly humorous approach with conceptual, tongue in cheek forms of art making.

Margins is a retrospective of Cummings’ nine-year long art career featuring painting, drawing, performance art, photography and video work. His art reflects the experience of a person with disabilities operating across several marginalized communities: someone living with schizophrenia, a person who is HIV +, an abuse survivor, homosexual, and part First Nations. Through exhibition of his vast body of work, Cummings hopes to enlighten his audience with his marginalized experiences and reveal a glimpse into the challenges he’s faced through being abused, HIV positive and a mental health consumer. He tackles these issues head on, and show how these things have engineered his growth and transformed him into a more confident and successful artist, using his signature provocative and sexually rebellious techniques.

Regarding The Mentally Ill as Simulacra, Martins’ approach is more subtle, but no less effective. The word simulacrum describes the representation of another thing, that is, a copy, and has been of interest to philosophers dating back to Plato. Often, something that is described as a simulacrum is thought of as being inferior to its original. Theorist Jean Baudrillard argues that a simulacrum is not a copy but is a thing that becomes truth in its own right. Martins asserts that this idea of simulacrum can be transposed onto the mental health community; wherein the “mentally ill” person in society is seen through the simulacra lens as a lesser version of a “normal” person; so that the entrenched stigmatization of the “mentally ill” person is reified.

 

 

 

 

 

Martins states: “There are symptoms of certain mental illnesses that even give a person the sensation of being a living simulacrum.  A person can feel as if they are an actor and that their life is some sort of film or TV show.  A person can also have the sensation that they are somehow not a “whole” person again reinforcing the nightmarish idea of the mentally ill as simulacra.”

This exhibit of Martins’ explores these fascinating ideas around mental illness and stigmatization through his video and installation works.

Media requests: Lara Fitzgerald, programming@gachet.org, t: 604 687 2468.

To see pictures from this exhibition, please visit our Flickr account https://www.flickr.com/photos/gallerygachet/sets/72157627761131264

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