Ramūnas Čičelis. Along the paths of insanity
Shocked – this is how I felt after visiting an exhibition of Danish modern art called “Bedlam. Normality and Other Manias” that was held in Art Gallery of Klaipeda Culture Communication Centre on 12th of August. Several days in a row I went back to look at the showpieces. They raised so many questions and finding answers felt like taking a test. It’s only natural that visitors will be asking themselves “Am I normal? Maybe I shouldn’t go?” before coming to the exhibition of eight Danish artists. If you will pause in the doorway afraid to meet the Scandinavian authors in person it will only prove that you have a pre-freudian attitude. In short, you shouldn’t even contemplate on madness and normality. For those brave enough to see the exhibition I give tenths of questions that I asked myself. There will be no answers, however, as each of you will have your own.
Where is the limit between madness and “normal”? Does “normal” really exist? If that is a public agreement, what determines it? Why does the word “pamišėlis” (“madman”) in Lithuanian language means crazy about something and being mentally ill? Is culture only preserving or is it also repressing? How is a person affected by traumatic experiences? Is there a conditional period of tranquillity between traumatic experience and mental illness? What happens during this short period? Does physics and psychology have anything in common; after all, both spheres involve energy? Why the corridors of mental hospitals, prisons and British traditional universities are so long? Why the buildings of these institutions are designed as squares with inner yards? Does full moon really affect people that are mentally ill? Can stereotyped behaviour guarantee sanity and help avoid repression? Why do people like travelling and changing cultural environment they live in? Does madness of genius professionalism exist? How should we treat such madmen? Isn’t the simplicity of human behaviour the most complicated phenomenon? What is reality: what I think; what majority thinks; the common agreement? Isn’t simplicity the biggest aspiration in our life? Maybe simplicity is equal to vulgarity? Is socrealistic art only a way to reduce our awareness or did socrealistic artists approached reality as a conventional standard? What determines our mood as soon as we wake up? Can it depend on what happened yesterday? Is the morning mood really the tuning fork for the rest of the day? If social life is only a theatre maybe we should give our best performance? If so, why should we even emphasize authenticity and existential experiences? Do we really experience them in solitude? Maybe things we believe we don’t know how to do are the things we are really best at? What should we think about the trend applied in Western medicine few centuries ago to search for human soul in his stomach? Is the soul of a modern man really in his brain? Maybe we should rely on religion instead of medicine in order to answer this question? Maybe madness is the key element relating all human beings? Why do we shout only in the forest? Doesn’t society remind you of a forest? Is schizophrenia really untreatable? Maybe we lack compassion? Would we have compassion on Adolf Hitler if he was still alive?
Can you still sleep well after asking yourself these questions and trying to answer them? Maybe you should visit the XIX century England’s Bedlam Hospital in Klaipeda Culture Communication Centre? Leave the sticks that look like the ones used by British to accost to mental patients century ago at home. Since not all of you will take this advice make sure this stick does not hit you by mistake. After all who can define normal?