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Katya Mukherjee

Foundation Diploma in Art and Design 2019 / 20

For my final piece investigating “what makes us human” I have created a mixed media installation combining costume design, set design and photography as a means to visually express my character; a criminally insane psychiatrist, loosely based off Walter J Freeman II, a widely celebrated 20th century physician and founder of the infamous ice pick lobotomy. I’m This was an era in which mental health was seen to have been a crime. The rehabilitation process paralleled experimental testing on lab rats.

My project encapsulates this eerie moment in medical history. It takes elements from my own personal experience inside of a psychiatric ward, which has lead me to question the treatment of mental health patients, both in the present and the past. The installation that I plan to curate aims to mimic the sensation of one entering a museum, filled with tangible relics of the past, which hold, in this scenario, a sinister and shocking significance. Each item of this ‘museum’ will hold a different storyline that centres around this character, whom I have named Dr. Thalamus the II. For instance, the straightjacket that I have made bares similarities to its real life predecessors as I have referenced the same materials and industrial dyeing techniques. Furthermore the photography element is purely in polaroid format, resonating with the technological capabilities of that era.

The nature of the installation is such that one might feel on edge, as though they have walked into the private quarters of Dr, fearing he may be due to return soon. I want this installation to be thought provoking, as I feel that mental health practices continue to be highly stereotyped and stigmatised through media, both in the present and past. There is value in the raw and shocking truth, which I have been able to observe from both outside and in.

Presentation of gathered photographs of recovered asylum hidden shots, mimicking a crime scene investigation pin board format

Polaroid photos of Dr THALMUS' office after it has been discovered as part of an ongoing investigation into illegal practises inside asylums

For my final piece investigating “what makes us human” I have created a mixed media installation combining costume design, set design and photography as a means to visually express my character; a criminally insane psychiatrist, loosely based off Walter J Freeman II, a widely celebrated 20th century physician and founder of the infamous ice pick lobotomy. I’m This was an era in which mental health was seen to have been a crime. The rehabilitation process paralleled experimental testing on lab rats.

My project encapsulates this eerie moment in medical history. It takes elements from my own personal experience inside of a psychiatric ward, which has lead me to question the treatment of mental health patients, both in the present and the past. The installation that I plan to curate aims to mimic the sensation of one entering a museum, filled with tangible relics of the past, which hold, in this scenario, a sinister and shocking significance. Each item of this ‘museum’ will hold a different storyline that centres around this character, whom I have named Dr. Thalamus the II. For instance, the straightjacket that I have made bares similarities to its real life predecessors as I have referenced the same materials and industrial dyeing techniques. Furthermore the photography element is purely in polaroid format, resonating with the technological capabilities of that era.

The nature of the installation is such that one might feel on edge, as though they have walked into the private quarters of Dr, fearing he may be due to return soon. I want this installation to be thought provoking, as I feel that mental health practices continue to be highly stereotyped and stigmatised through media, both in the present and past. There is value in the raw and shocking truth, which I have been able to observe from both outside and in.

Presentation of gathered photographs of recovered asylum hidden shots, mimicking a crime scene investigation pin board format

Polaroid photos of Dr THALMUS' office after it has been discovered as part of an ongoing investigation into illegal practises inside asylums