Dancing with madness is the working title of the project in collaboration with dancer, artist and professor, Cassia Charrison.
In 2004, the mental health hospital Dr. Eiras (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), the largest private mental health asylum in Latin America at the time, went under a Federal intervention after 120 people died in a period of 4 months. In an effort to prepare the institution for closure and redirecting patients to more humane facilities, Cassia Charrison, a contemporary dancer who had been studying therapy through movement, was invited to work with the patients through their bodies so they could return to walking, eating, talking again, faculties that most of them had lost during their period of incarceration.
I was introduced to Cassia in 2011, by Isadora Garcia, who had been documenting Cassia's work with a group of people who had spent years inside Dr. Eiras' facilities. When I saw Cassia interacting with the group for the first time, I was perplexed by how organically she communicated with them. Despite those people were severely impaired regarding their speech and general social interaction, it seemed very possible to communicate with them. I then proposed we started documenting it with the intention of making a film. After observing her work for a while, I told Cassia I was thinking about approaching the issue from the perspective of language, she smiled at me and said: Yes darling, it is the language of love.
Throughout the years, as a result of working with Cassia, two video pieces were made. One of them was presented by Cassia in a few different ocasions where she gave talks about her experience in Brazil. The second one, called Wearing the Inside Out, was exhibited in the show Concerning Human Understanding, curated by Keren Moscovitch at the SVA Flatiron Gallery (2015).
A full feature film is in the works.
If the human race survives, future men will, I suspect, look back on our enlightened epoch as a veritable age of Darkness. They will presumably be able to savor the irony of the situation with more amusement than we can extract from it. The laugh's on us. They will see that what we call "schizophrenia" was one of the forms in which, often through quite ordinary people, the light began to break through the cracks in our all-too-closed minds. R.D. Laing, The Politics of Experience, p. 107
The modern man no longer communicates with the madman [...] There is no common language: or rather, it no longer exists; the constitution of madness as mental illness, at the end of the eighteenth century, bears witness to a rupture in a dialogue, gives the separation as already enacted, and expels from the memory all those imperfect words, of no fixed syntax, spoken falteringly, in which the exchange between madness and reason was carried out. The language of psychiatry, which is a monologue by reason about madness, could only have come into existence in such a silence. Michel Foucault, 1961