Last week I got to see the Group Therapy: Mental Distress in a Digital Age exhibition running at FACT in Liverpool. I’d read quite a bit about the show and been impressed by the event programme running alongside it. The show was curated across two large rooms one very dark and one containing a fabric labyrinth. More on that in a later post.
The main artwork I went along to see was the film Twelve by artist Melanie Manchot, who’s photographic and video work I’ve seen and admired for many years. Her multi-channel video piece, arising out of two years work with people recovering from addiction, was very compelling and at times even overwhelming. In the dark at FACT (the work will tour the UK to other venues this spring) three monitors are placed in a circle with chairs in between them so that installation feels intimate and echoes a therapeutic setting. Encompassing car washes, ferry journeys and window shots her liminal landscapes combined with spoken vignettes are enganged with, rather than passively received. One of the recollections of a women talking about her drug use on the night of her daughter’s long-awaited communion was so very sad. Speaking with Michaela Nettell in a recent a-n article the artist was clear she wanted to do more than retell the early traumatic circumstances that most people she worked with had endured as that creates “a sort of us and them, reinforcing the separation”; she also emphasized that the work echoes the addiction recovery process, which often “moves forward, backwards – it’s really not linear”
http://www.a-n.co.uk/news/melanie-manchot-we-defined-the-aesthetic-framework-together-but-the-content-is-theirs. For further information please visit www.twelve.org.uk. Group Therapy runs at FACT until 17th May