No results found

Waterperry web banner fxs4dz
What's On, Culture, Art

Amaia Salazar: Unmasking the Mind

At The North Wall

Example exhibition burfvu

This month an intriguing exhibition digs deep into dreams, fiction and reality, sleep disorders and the way art can help communities move forward with their understanding of certain medical conditions. Photography and other works at The North Wall, Summertown examines the similarities in dreams or hallucinatory patterns in people from different places and cultures and considers what this teaches us about our collective imagination.

Dr Amaia Salazar is a Spanish artist who uses a critical and analytical approach to investigate how different symbolic and emotional experiences deepen the study of human cognition. Interested in studying behavioural concepts from an anthropological, historical, and sociological perspective, her artistic point of view allows us to pinpoint the origins of our thoughts – from the moment they are perceived from our senses to the way our mind interprets and transforms them into behaviours, beliefs, and feelings,” says Nicky Laird, curator at The North Wall.

“Dreams, nightmares, illusions, and hallucinations are all part of our collective imagination, and concepts such as the magical, the mystical, the mysterious all have a scientific and historical basis that Amaia tries to deconstruct/reconstruct through art. She visually materialises certain intangible concepts and visual disorders, in order to recreate an understanding of the abovementioned emotional and cultural phenomena. To achieve this, she analyses experiences based on shared testimonies, with the aim of combining both objective and subjective perspectives. She seeks to create a new visual panorama which will enable us to delve into the understanding of common but little-known phenomena and give them visibility through art.”

​The first half of the exhibition draws on the experience of people who suffer a sleep disorder called sleep paralysis and experience recurrent episodes of this parasomnia. “It’s that state between sleep and wakefulness when the person is conscious of being awake, but the muscles of the body keep them immobilised which often causes great distress,” explains Salazar. “As many as 50% of people have periods of this during their lives. This parasomnia usually produces different symptoms, the most common of which are visual, such as hallucination. I use photography to represent these experiences, both digital images and from a pin-hole camera, which I made myself and which will be on show as part of the exhibition.

Sleep paralysis is a conscious state in which you feel as if you are being watched. I try to show this sensation visually with images based on the testimonies collected, as well as my own subjective perspective, having suffered from it myself. It was a challenge to represent such volatile perceptions as a whisper or the sensation of a presence in the room. Some photographs are shown from a third person and others from a first-person point of view," she adds.

The testimonials of a sample of the 500 people whom Salazar interviewed for this project are displayed in a series of clinical tubes in an installation. “Open the tubes and read the stories that are behind the show. There will also be some blank paper and empty tubes so visitors can add their own experiences into the mix as part of the project” she continues.

“The visual arts are not only a great way to recreate a feeling and communicate it to others. They’re also helpful to the healing process for those who suffer the condition and for triggering conversations within both the community of sufferers and those who haven’t experienced it.”

The second half of the exhibition focuses on Charles Bonnet Syndrome, in which visually-impaired people experience complex and lucid hallucinations. The condition was described by British neurologist Oliver Sacks, author of the classic psychology book of case-histories, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat.

"This is a visual disorder that can transform fiction into reality and vice versa – people find it hard to distinguish between what is real and what is not, making their day-to-day lives difficult. The challenge was how to represent this visually and by doing so I hope to bring the artistic and scientific community together, to build awareness of how art can contribute to the understanding of science in the future, and how science can inspire artistic creation" says Salazar.

“Unmasking the Mind: Dreams, hallucinations, and other realities”

The North Wall 10 – 20 January

Book review

Oliver Sacks: The Man who mistook his wife for a hat

A classic work of psychology, this international best seller provides an intriguing insight into the human mind as Sacks recounts the stories of patients, delving into the lives of individuals with rare and often bizarre neurological conditions and bridging the gap between medical science and the human stories. Within the pages you’ll find people who can no longer recognise everyday objects or those they love; who are stricken with violent tics or shout involuntary obscenities, and yet are gifted with uncanny artistic or mathematical talents. Whilst strange and almost inconceivable to a neurotypical reader, these fascinating tales are a unique blend of scientific insight and compassionate storytelling and perhaps shed light on what it means to be human.


nik kershaw
Fri 31 May 2024

Nik Kershaw’s debut album Human Racing came out in 1984 and saw him dominating the singles chart with tracks including Wouldn’t It Be Good, I Won’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me and Dancing Girls. Swiftly followed by The Riddle, Nik spent 62 weeks in the charts and was one of the musicians to play Live Aid in July 1985.

Nell Mescal pwj9ug
Fri 31 May 2024

For the uninitiated, Nell Mescal (yes, sister of actor Paul) is an Irish singer-songwriter who hit the festival circuit hard last summer, playing (amongst others) The Great Escape, BST Hyde Park, Boardmasters and Live at Leeds. This year, she’s headed to Oxfordshire and Alex James’ Big Feastival for August bank holiday weekend. Eloise Lonsdale caught up with her to find out more about her musical style and her recently launched EP, Can I Miss it For a Minute.

Sea Girls Credit Blacksocks qoafap
Fri 31 May 2024

2024’s Truck line-up looks to be one of its best yet, balancing big names with emerging artists and beloved regulars. As an event, it has come to mark start of the summer holidays for its devoted attendees, but how about the acts? We caught up with Oli Khan, drummer in indie-rock band Sea Girls to get the bands-eye view.

Corinne Bailey Rae
Wed 1 May 2024

Corinne Bailey Rae’s Put Your Records On snap-shotted the summer of 2006. Her most recent release, Black Rainbows came out 2023 and it is obvious to hear how much she is relishing the full range of her unique voice and, as I was to discover when we spoke, her extraordinarily lyrical vocabulary.