Andreja Kulunčić (HR) Destigmatization

multimedija, process-based project, 2010

A project in collaboration with the working group consisting of mentor Dubravka Stijačić, prof. (defectologist, social pedagogue and psychotherapist who is running an independent unit in the Vrapče psychiatric hospital called the Resocialisation Centre since 1996) and persons diagnosed as having the chronic mental illness of schizophrenia (who, after being discharged from Vrapče, have endured various forms of the stigmas attached to mental disturbances and their consequences).

In what way (?)

does society relate to mental illness,
do we personally perceive the problem,
do we react when we meet a person suffering from a mental illness,
does the family cope with the mental illness of one of its members,
does society look upon the family of the ill,
do personnel who work with mental disturbances relate to the sick,
does society look at establishments in which mental disorders are treated,
do the laws function with respect to the rights of the mentally ill,
can mentally ill persons help themselves,
can we help such a person,
can the mentally ill be resocialised

The project Destigmatisation is concerned with the problem of the stigma of mental diseases, or rather, with the discrimination and prejudices against people who suffer from mental illnesses. The project starts as part of the Extravagant Bodies: Extravagant Minds festival, but after the festival is over, will go on building segments through the working group collaboration process, as well as with work with other persons involved in the problem of the social stigma of mental illnesses.

Destigmatisation is being built up in two directions at once. It raises the level of public awareness, provoking modifications in the perception of persons with mental illnesses, that is, in understanding that the phenomenon of mental sickness is not something distinct from society, that people with social disturbances are a part of society and that they need to be given the chances to become themselves agents in the process of destigmatisation. The wish here is to find ways in which they can themselves talk of the problems, possible solutions, the mistakes that society at a conscious or unconscious level makes with respect to them and to give them tools for activity so that they themselves can find and create spaces in society for their own active inclusion.

Here are three different media that the project uses to open up a dialogue in the segments shown as part of the festival: a video installation the festival venue, interventions in the media and “mini activism” of the public in public spaces.

The festival is a point of departure, an opening up of a dialogue, a place of the encounter... a spur to and not the final point in the raising of awareness of the problem and of action, for as always, all this primarily depends upon ourselves.

collaborators: the workgroup involving prof. Dubravka Stijačić (mentor) and persons diagnosed with schizophrenia
camera: Darko Krakar, Sound: Ivan Mihoci, Montage: Maida Srabović, Photography: Vedran Metelko

Andreja Kulunčić (HR)

Andreja Kulunčić is a visual artist, born in 1968. She studied sculpture, graduating in 1992 from the Faculty of Applied Arts and Design in Belgrade, Yugoslavia. From 1992 to 1994 studied at the Hungarian Academy of Fine Arts in Budapest. Her work has been featured in exhibitions such as documenta 11, Manifesta 4, 8. Istanbul Biennial, Day Labor (P.S.1, New York), The America Effect (Whitney Museum of American Art in NY), Liverpool Biennial, among others. 
She has participated in artist's residencies at the Art in General in New York, at Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, at Artspace in Sydney, Australia, in 10th Tiennale-India and others. She lives in Zagreb, Croatia, where she teaches at the Academy of Fine Arts, Department of Animated Film and New Media.