Torn from easyJet’s latest in-flight magazine issue, an interview with Serbian performance artist Marina Abramovic:
You’re known for doing crazy stuff, but your latest piece is just you in a room for eight hours a day, six days a week. What’s happening?
“After 40 years of being an artist, I really want to see if I can work with just energy. It could fail, so I guess that’s why it’s worth doing. I’ve never been in a space where there is nothing.”
What do you hope to achieve?
“People are so lost these days, there’s a need for this transmission of energy at the moment. They are full of so much pain and direct contact with an artist is not there. Artists become celebrities and are untouchable.”
How can you do this by saying and doing nothing?
“We can alert our powers of telepathy. For the past year, Russian and American scientists have measured my brain waves. They have proved that when you’re looking at a total stranger, without saying one word, you’re sending subconscious information to each other. So you can actually know more about somebody without saying one word than while having a conversation. It’s cheaper than a telephone.”
In past performances, you’ve cut yourself, taken drugs and allowed strangers to hurt you. Why?
“Terrible events can make tremendous change, like terminal disease, an accident, someone from your family dying. People never change from happiness. I’m not waiting for this kind of event. I’m staging difficult situation in the form of the performance.”
Louise Gillett is a writer and creative talent behind the blog Schizophrenia at the School Gate. No, wait, she’s not just a writer, she’s an excellent writer and she’s got a wonderful way of explaining “schizophrenia” from the point of view of her older and wiser self. She writes about her insecurities in a way that I find delightful and insightful. I got Louise’s permission to reprint her latest musings on social anxiety because I think what she’s saying can give parents hope in recovery.
Here’s just a snippet:
“About me. Well, I am normal (we have established that. Or haven’t we?!) but I was diagnosed with schizophrenia as a young person and that still affects my perception of myself. I feel quite strongly that this label is wrong – not for me in particular, but for everyone who is afflicted with it. Because anyone can suffer emotional distress for a variety of reasons (there always are reasons) and anyone can break down – and anyone can also recover. But the label of schizophrenia doesn’t allow for recovery – even if, like me, you haven’t had to take medication for twelve years and you have no symptoms of mental ill-health (social anxiety is not schizophrenia).
Which means that those people who do recover – which is more than you would think – stay very quiet about the fact that they were ever diagnosed. Which gives the others with the same label – and people are still being given this label today – very little hope for their own futures. ”