In an Ambitious Initiative, Artists Around the World Will Create New Work Exploring Mental Health at Five Major Museums


As mental health becomes increasingly central to conversations about how to live a healthy life, four international museums are coming together for a new initiative that examines how art and culture can offer new perspectives on the subject. Called Mindscapes, the program is being funded by the Wellcome Trust, a charitable health research foundation from London.

The yearlong program is a partnership with the Brooklyn Museum in New York, the Mori Art Museum in Tokyo, the Gropius Bau in Berlin, and the Museum of Art and Photography in Bengaluru, India—as well as the Hamwe Festival in Kigali, Rwanda, and the Library Foundation of Los Angeles and Los Angeles Public Library.

The aim is to utilize art and culture, not just science, to help the one-in-five people worldwide who have dealt with mental health struggles—a concern that has become all the more pressing over the past two years due to the pandemic.

“Science cannot do this work alone,” Danielle Olsen, Wellcome’s cultural partnerships lead, said in a statement. “Working closely with cultural practitioners—with artists, writers, curators, designers and film-makers—and bringing people with widely varying disciplinary and professional backgrounds together, we are interested in what we can do together that we couldn’t do alone.”

Indu Antony, Kader Attia, Christine Wong Yap, Yuki Iiyama, Cecilie Waagner Falkenstrøm, and Guadalupe Maravilla, the Mindscapes artists-in-residence. Photos courtesy of Mindscapes.

There will be exhibitions and community events in all six cities tackling issues including urbanization, poverty, discrimination, racism, and gender, and considering how to deal with mental health challenges in different contexts. The initiative will also put together the first global crowd-sourced film about mental health.

Mindscapes has set up international artist residencies for Indu Antony, Kader Attia, Cecilie Waagner Falkenstrøm, Guadalupe Maravilla, Christine Wong Yap, and Yuki Iiyama, with author and political activist Priya Basil as the writer-in-residence. She will travel through Kenya and Rwanda, among other countries, to write a new atlas of mental health exploring how it has been understood in different nations, both historically and today.

The artists have each conducted community-based research in preparation for commissions with Wellcome’s partnering institutions.

Maravilla will have a Brooklyn Museum solo show responding to the trauma of the pandemic and civil unrest surrounding the Black Lives Matter movement and 2020 U.S. presidential election, working with the museum’s teen program to create a “Healing Room.”

Priya Basil, Mindscape writer-in-residence. Photo courtesy of Mindscapes.

Priya Basil, Mindscape writer-in-residence. Photo courtesy of Mindscapes.

In Tokyo, Iiyama will address domestic violence, and the Mori will host the group show “Listen to the Sound of the Earth Turning: Our Wellbeing Since the Pandemic.”

“On Caring, Repairing and Healing” at the Gropius Bau will focus on Indigenous and First Nations knowledge systems, which prioritize care for both the body and the environment, in a show of 20 international artists. For his Mindscapes project, Attia will examine how Berlin’s history has shaped the city’s collective memory and intergenerational trauma.

In Bengaluru, Antony will look to create safe spaces that break down mental health taboos in India. Her three part exhibition will take place at Kanike, her studio in middle-class Cooke Town; Lingarajapuram, a densely populated suburb of the city home to many workers; and the Museum of Art and Photography.

Falkenstrøm, Mindscapes’s international artist-in-residence, will collaborate with data workers in the artificial intelligence industry for a project on mental health in the digital age. And Wong Yap, the artist-at-large, will visit civic spaces in multiple cities, studying how social infrastructure such as libraries, parks, and community centers can improve mental health and staging an exhibition at Los Angeles Public Library’s Central Library.

The Hamwe Festival will be on view in Kigali, Rwanda, November 9–13, 2022.

“Guadalupe Maravilla: Tierra Blanca Joven” will be on view at the Brooklyn Museum, 200 Eastern Parkway, New York, April  8, 2022–September 18, 2022.

“Something in Common” will be on view at the Library Foundation of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Public Library Central Library, 630 West 5th Street, Los Angeles, May 7–November 6, 2022.

“Listen to the Sound of the Earth Turning: Our Wellbeing Since the Pandemic” will be on view at the Mori Art Museum, Roppongi Hills Mori Tower, 53階 6 Chome-10-1 Roppongi, Minato City, Tokyo 106-6150, Japan, June 29–November 6, 2022.

“On Caring, Repairing and Healing” will be on view at the Gropius Bau, Martin-Gropius-Bau, Niederkirchnerstraße 7, 10963 Berlin, Germany, September 16, 2022–January 23, 2023.

Indu Antony’s exhibition will open at the Museum of Art and Photography, Kasturba Rd, Shanthala Nagar, Ashok Nagar, Bengaluru, Karnataka 560001, India, in March 2023. 

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