Unreason is reason dazzled: in conversation
Recorded Live at Elephant West
October 2019

Audio ︎ click here
Transcript ︎ click here

The opening and closing extracts are from the Italian documentary 'Cronoca' recorded 5 years after the closing of the Arezzo asylum.

Considering the responsive relationship between socio-political contexts and perceptions of mental illness is crucial in the task of re-politicisizing mental health. The birth of the asylum and subsequent medicalisation of madness, according to Michel Foucault, ended a dialogue with madness that had been present during the Renaissance and, in its place, brought about a monopoly of reason over unreason. Foucault understands unreason as ‘reason dazzled’, blinded by the light of experience. This live recording, with Phoebe Eustance and Jess Oglethorpe, a forensic mental health Occupational Therapist, looks at the active role of art in recording and bearing witness to changing perceptions of mental health through two artworks. The first is an early 20th century fresco originally painted on the walls of an asylum in Arezzo, Italy, and the other by a service user painted on the walls of Hellingly forensic unit during the making of the Hellingly tapestry, a Hospital Rooms project with Tim A Shaw.