In his novel Queen of Angels, set at the close of 2047, Greg Bear explores the concept of what he calls, “the Country of the Mind”. This, Bear postulates, is the “ground” for all our thoughts. A kind of virtual reality landscape within us where our “big and little selves” – the personality routines which make up the conscious self, and all of the partial personalities and talents which operate alongside and within our primary personality – reside. It is a place that can be shaped and refined by those different aspects of our personality as they variously work together or come into dominance – or conflict with one another.
Where the mind is healthy, and the personalities and talents are integrated, the Country of the Mind can be a place of beauty; but where there is illness or damage, and personalities and talents are in flux or chaos, the Country can be altogether different, the landscape less harmonious, the scenes and images within it more discordant.
Cherry Manga’s Insanity, now open at Per4mance MetaLES may, for some, be an uncomfortable subject. It is an attempt to study the inner workings of a damaged mind; how or why it is damaged – by illness, age, drugs or whatever – isn’t important. The focus is on what occurs within it: the conflicts, confusion, moments of clarity, frustration, and the sense of being somehow broken.
As such it is an intense, sometimes disquieting installation; but it is also deeply compelling, emotive and, at times, quite beautiful.
Set against a bleak, rolling landscape and under a rolling sky, sit a series of vignettes, each striking in its content and message. Some are static, others feature motion while yet others have sections that appear and disappear like shattered – or perhaps unwanted – thoughts. All have their own story to convey – the meaning of which is down to the visitor to interpret. Symbolism is strong here, emotions seep through the landscape and through the pieces (do be sure to have local sounds enabled when visiting).
To me, Insanity is a powerful visualisation of Bear’s Country of the Mind as it might be manifested by a mind in conflict with itself, and as a visitor, I am cast into the role of therapist, seeking to explore and understand – and, eventually, to help. The various scenes and images presented here seem very much to be the “little selves”, the partial personalities and talents, in disarray, each seeking expression or perhaps the comfort of the control of a primary self. a place where amidst the chaos there is still the memory – or hope – of compassion and love.
Insanity is an evocative piece, haunting and moving at one and the same time. As mentioned towards the top of this piece, it may not sit easy with some – but that doesn’t detract from the fact it is well worth a visit.
- Insanity, Per4ormance MetaLES (Rated: Moderate)