Photo: The Japanese Foundation

Photo: The Japanese Foundation

Written by Melanie Booth

A new innovative festival combining interactive visual arts and mental health projects is coming to Sydney. From the 20th September to the 11th November, The Big Anxiety will host over sixty events across Sydney involving artists, scientists and communities to discuss and examine the state of mental health in the twenty-first century.

Designed to promote awareness and inspire action through a series of highly interactive, diverse projects, the festival aims to encourage the audience to learn about mental health. The Big Anxiety is an initiative of UNSW Sydney in association with the Black Dog Institute and over 25 partners in the cultural, education and health sectors.

The projects are categorised into approachable, thought-provoking topics. Here are a couple of top picks that Culture Scouts & Art Pharmacy are excited for:

“Eco-Anxiety: Holding a Deep Breath” considers the uncertainty and Eco-Anxiety in the Anthropocene works of contemporary Japanese and Australian artists and designers, presented by the Japanese Foundation.

Eco-anxiety refers to people who worry about the current and future state of the environment to the point where an anxiety response is triggered. This project by looks at ways in which this issue is projected and dealt with within works of art.

Deep” will involve an interactive meditative VR experience designed to bring calm and awareness to the audience.

The immersive 3-D experience is devised to react to your breathing, the surrounding virtual landscape altering upon inhalation and exhalation.

The “Power and Institution” collection explores how we perceive personal dysfunctions in relation to dysfunctions within the larger societal system. The project brings into question the larger classification system of mental health and questions whether disorders can be of a person or the system which they are part of.

The workshop will engage with ideas of soulless institutions, toxic workplaces and systemic abuse.

For more information on all the projects, and to create your own personalised program, see The Big Anxiety website

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