Black Men's Minds
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Installation images from Black Men's Minds by Stephen Rudder at Black Cultural Archives, 2021

Black Men’s Minds  

Stephen Rudder 

Bethlem Gallery

27 April 2022 – 7 May 2022  

Open 10am – 5pm, Wednesday – Saturday

Black Men’s Minds by artist and psychotherapist Stephen Rudder is a stream-of-conscious exploration of masculinity, power and culture through lived experience. Presented for the first time in a mental health context, the site-specific installation interweaves spoken word, original footage, and found and archival imagery with a sound score developed from the frequencies of psychotropic medications.

Collaging images and video footage of Ghana and the Cape Coast, the sea, London Bridge and the streets of Brixton, the work draws out symbolic representations of racial trauma, racism and slavery, underlying presences in Black men’s perceptions of themselves and their experiences of the perceptions of Black men from others. 

Black Men’s Minds bears testimony to the psychological tensions present in Black men’s minds, voices that are often missing in conversations around mental health. Created with contributions from fifty Black men, the work was developed in response to statistics showing that Black people are four times more likely to be sectioned under the Mental Health Act than their white counterparts, and seventeen times more likely to be diagnosed with a serious mental health condition.   

Black Men’s Minds (16’35”) originated as a series of workshops with the men led by Rudder and poet Richard Mkoloma. The men created collages and poems – later performed live – through explorations of their lived experiences of mental health and the mental health system, power, masculinity and authority. These and other spoken testimonies form part of the soundtrack to Black Men’s Minds alongside a soundpiece by composer and sound engineer Richard J Edwards derived from tones and scales ‘extracted’ from the chemical equation of a psychotropic drug compound. Rudder completed Black Men’s Minds in 2019, before lockdown, and before the George Floyd tragedy and the mass activism that followed. 

Black Men’s Minds screening times: 10:30am, 11:30am, 12:30pm, 2:30pm, 3:30pm

The video installation lasts 16 minutes and is followed by a free cup of tea/coffee in our studio space with an opportunity to decompress, have a chat and write or draw your responses.

Online event: Thursday 5th May, 5:30-6:30pm
We will be screening an online version of the work that lasts 16 minutes before holding a discussion between the artist and members of the Maudsley Cultural Psychiatry Group: Dr Allison Edwards, researcher Kevin Ariyo and Dr Preety Das with a chance for questions and conversation. Free tickets available here

Header Images: Black Men’s Minds, 2019 (stills) © Stephen Rudder

Download the aftercare and resources handout here.

Download the press release here.

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