Some questions about us (2019) is a new public artwork by Mark Titchner commissioned by Bethlem Gallery’s Mental Health and Justice Project. The artwork is situated just within the Bethlem Royal Hospital perimeter looking out onto Monks Orchard Road.
This new public artwork is the first of a series of works by Titchner that relate to his involvement with the Mental Health and Justice project, a multi-disciplinary research initiative funded by Wellcome. Titchner has been working with the team that are investigating issues around the assessment of mental capacity particularly in relation to complex or contested cases. The issues around the research are complex and relate to legal, ethical and medical questions.
For this work the artist presents a series of mirrored placards that confront the viewer with a direct question. These forthright questions relate to issues around mental capacity and assessment but can also be read more widely around issues of personal autonomy or the individual’s relationship to the state and the fragility of this position.
Two versions of the work will be simultaneously installed on the public boundary of the Bethlem Royal Hospital and at Firstsite in Colchester in July this year before moving on to further venues. Bethlem Gallery and Mark Titchner will be running a series of events inviting mental health service users, local residents and hospital staff to respond to the provocation of Some questions about us.
Mark Titchner is an English artist, and 2006 nominee for the Turner Prize. He lives and works in London. Focusing on an exploration of words and language, in recent years much of his production has been based in the public realm both in the UK and internationally. These public works have often been created from extended group activities.
Bethlem Gallery’s Mental Health and Justice Public Engagement
Bethlem Gallery is funded by Wellcome to provide public engagement for research into mental health and justice. The public programme influences, and is influenced by, the Mental Health & Justice research team which is comprised of six inter-related research strands involving clinical experts, lawyers, philosophers, neuroscientists, social scientists and service users. Commissioned artists bring people together across these multi-disciplinary strands and across the delineations of service user, clinician, patient, public, artist and researcher to encourage conversations and learning through art practices. Our initial focus is on the two principal areas of enquiry central to the research: the concept of support in decision-making and the concept of decision-making ability. However, the direction of our work is determined by the continual qualitative evaluation taking place throughout.