I am particularly inspired by the ‘happenings’ movement, conceived by Allan Kaprow that grew out of the 1950’s and often described as performance, event or situation art. ‘Happenings’ always have a social message, cause or call to action and in my case I will be adding a video element to compliment the pieces.
This Happening focuses on pandemic related mental health deterioration due to isolation, loneliness and lack of physical touch.
The piece is intended as a Digital Hug’ antidote to this universally felt ‘distancing’ by offering a vicarious experience of human physical contact, yet achieved through the medium of video. It poses the questions; Can we live vicariously through art? Can a piece of art heal the mind and if so can it act as a wellbeing resource to return back to time and time again?
For the piece I created a specially designed weighted blanket, but instead of the tiny pellets that make them heavier, which create a sense of security and stability that has been shown to reduce anxiety and unbeknownst to our participants, was actually made up of human platonic touch therapists. These included somatic body workers, professional massagers and professional cuddlers.
On Sunday Oct 10, 2021 World Mental Health Day, Red Jay’s project was just one of several installations in Montreal calling attention to mental wellbeing. See coverage of his event.
Red Jay (real name Josh Oliver) An international mongrel of English / Canadian breed… A self described ‘Artivist’ focusing on activism, humanism and political & social injustice. See website.