St Clement’s Hospital, Bow Road, Mile End, London
8-18 August 2013
Compulsion is a group exhibition of 8 artists. The films and lithographic prints Susan Aldworth presents in Compulsion investigate human identity and question definitions of madness. Her works are placed in a series of rooms – waiting rooms, clinical rooms and upstairs bedrooms. The derelict hospital is full of the ephemera of psychiatric clinical practice – as if the staff and patients suddenly left, leaving behind their traces in medical files, syringes and personal possessions. A small teddy bear lays abandoned on a dusty single bed. The fabric of the building contains the poignant history of the patients and staff, leaving ghostly footprints of mental health practice in the 19th and 20th centuries. The artworks sit in dialogue with this heavy silent presence.
Not wanting to impose a personal definition of what the experience of the condition might be, I decided to make portraits of schizophrenia itself using both individual testaments and reassembled body parts to suggest the uncompromising relationship of the mind to the body.