we are, we are

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$5,047 raised of $5,000 goal
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Funded on October 01, 2018
    • 101% contributed

My project, we are, we are, seeks to change the conversation we have about mental health. Since having been diagnosed with schizo-affective disorder myself, in 2005, this project is both personal and deeply needed socially. Too often people with mental health issues are demonized, portrayed as violent criminals, and wrongfully stigmatized. This social attitude will only change through our direct involvement with the stories of those affected. we are, we are is a series of performance art events, taking place at High Concept Labs, that address my lived experiences with schizophrenia while allowing room for dialogue. In total, three performances will examine language structure, identity issues (rooted in the perceptions of reality), and symptomology. The final event will be accompanied by a publication which will be given to attendees of the performance, and which examine my experiences through poetry, short essay, and visual means. Following each event there will be a dialogue session in which attendees are encouraged to ask questions about mental health, find common solutions to engaging the subject matter more personally, and share their own stories. we are, we are will not romanticize madness, but instead focus on the human aspect. This means there may be difficult subject matter, or difficult experiences that are not typically discussed, but, by addressing all aspects of this illness we can form new avenues of healing centered around the individual and the community that supports them. Your participation in this project can help turn the darkness of stigmas into the generous capacity of communities centered around support. Thank you. 

About This Project

After being diagnosed with schizo-affective disorder in 2005 I had a difficult time understanding myself and the world around me. I did not know what expectations I had, not only of myself, but of a world around me that thought so little of those who suffer from mental illnesses. As I had already been enrolled in college art classes, I used that production time to engage in understanding myself better through artistic means. I haven’t stopped since then. As I continue to dig deep into what my illness is and how it manifests in my body, I find that the rigor required of artistic ventures allows me to know myself fully and at a capacity that requires the utmost vulnerability and honesty.

we are, we are will continue this investigation as I seek to understand how language plays a role in how we talk about schizophrenia and how schizophrenic language shifts away from normalized speech. This will be played out through multiple avenues. First, through a series of three performances that will take place in the late fall of 2018. As a sponsored artist at High Concept Labs (HCL) I will take advantage of their unique venue to pose these performative experiences. The live performance event offers a distinct moment of shared experience, captured in a length of time that, as both maker and reader, we find commonalities and reciprocally enhance our understanding. This is developed further through the  post-performance dialogue  in which  audiences are invited to discuss their reactions, their own mental health stories, or simply ask questions. A small panel composed of myself and one or two invited professionals will share our answers and our own experiences in an effort to help promote awareness and engage with the proper tools to move forward.

Second, there will be a series of books present at the performances and available to guests. The books will be located throughout the space in sculptural pulpits (based loosely on medieval monk pulpits) and will offer different aspects of understanding language and symptomology. A final publication will be offered to attendees of the final performance which will be a culmination of the efforts throughout the previous books and throughout the previous events. It will contain an essay, poetic writings, and visual elements.

Lastly, each of the performances will have audio and visual elements meant to mimic symptoms of my schizophrenic experience. These will be projections and sound-based works in which I will interact and develop the experience. This, while played out externally, is characteristic of the internal struggles one deals with. The difficulty of presenting this is mirrored in the array of media present and offered in a way that captivates our understanding of mental health struggles.

In all, this project is a large undertaking that is both deeply personal and socially significant. The efforts of this project will seed future performances and ultimately reshape the conversation around mental health. Your donations will make the publication possible, will help in the purchasing of needed equipment, and will aid in the costs of providing disability accommodations for each event. This topic is not small, and changing the effects of stigmas will take a lot of effort, but your donations and your continued support will continue to build new communities centered on the change necessary to help those who need it desperately. This project is a continuation of thirteen years of my own work, and will be a milestone in a career that will take the rest of my life to develop. Your efforts on this journey are appreciated and deeply felt.

Thank you for your kindness and your generosity. Cheers!


Thank yous

Contribute any amount or choose from the levels below.

  • $25
    Personal Thank You and shout out on social media. ($25.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $50
    Above, plus your name listed in programming materials. ($50.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $75
    Above, plus a risograph print with image related to the performances. ($70.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $100
    Above, plus one ticket to the final performance, or for those who live elsewhere, a signed copy of the final publication. ($85.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $250
    Above, plus an invitation for a personal studio visit, or Skype studio visit. ($235.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $500
    Above, plus an etching print, based on work developed for "we are, we are." ($435.00 is tax deductible.)

Matt Bodett

Matt Bodett received his MFA from Boise State University in 2011, and taught printmaking there until he moved to Chicago in 2013. Since moving to Chicago he has played an active role in disability advocacy and utilizing artwork to open …

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