Benjamin Koslowski (UK), Exhibition Design

 

The design for Group Therapy aims to actively encourage the visitor to reflect on their own mental health.

The design for Group Therapy aims to actively encourage the visitor to reflect on their own mental health. The framing of content and people, and the blurring of the distinction between the two, is intended to encourage thinking about ones' personal relationship to the subject matter explored in the exhibition. The use of prop-like frames not only delineates space within the gallery but actively seeks to make the visitor an integral part of the setting. These frames establish a range of thresholds within the space and create continually shifting visual relationships between the artworks, objects, and visitors.

 

The design of the exhibition is further rooted in a research project with the Mental Health Unit at Forth Valley Royal Hospital in Larbert, Scotland. This project, led by Koslowski and carried out by a research team from the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design in London, identified key issues with the space and offered an art and design strategy to address these.

Tensions identified in the Mental Health Unit all dealt with thresholds which exist between individual needs, and institutional requirements: a need for privacy in patients, for example, contrasts with that for observation by staff, while the desire to make, or experience a welcoming or homely feel in a space is at odds with the context of a hospital. These environments contain inherent tensions and friction due to the lack of individual control over the physical environment, and the necessity for the space to fulfil certain institutional expectations.

 

It is these tensions which have inspired the relationships formed by, and the concepts explored within, the exhibition design of Group Therapy. It highlights the thresholds between the private, individual experience of the space, and the societal dynamics behind issues around mental health which are raised by the artworks and the main curatorial questions of the exhibition.

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