Wonderland: the art of becoming human (2016)

A co-produced arts project that explores the utopian impulses of recovery

Project website < click here

Commission to create a video documenting the experience of the project


"As researchers and participants we are interested in several things.

First, we want to understand the recovering person's emotional landscape. Especially people in longer term recovery. There is not much research about this.

Second, we want to know about the uses of visual art in "connected communities" research. We believe art can strengthen the health of communities. We know artists help to develop "felt knowledge" in research projects - a way of inquiring into the world that uses feelings, senses and first hand experience as well, or instead of 'facts' and standard measurements. But we need to understand more:

What is an artist actually doing when they succeed in developing a sense of 'community' between people?
Will their efforts appeal to some participants and not others - and why?
Who is 'the right' artist for any given research project?

Third, we want to know if experiences of recovery tell us something about utopian impulses - does recovery reveal anything more generally about the human ability to hold out hope for a better present and future?

The project focuses on photography and portraiture. Our lead artist, Cristina Nunez is an expert in the self-portrait, having initiated the SELF-PORTRAIT EXPERIENCE. Cristina teaches her self-portrait method all over the world.

Our project is a collaboration between Manchester School of Art (P.I. Dr Amanda Ravetz), the organisation PORe - Portraits of Recovery (Director Mark Prest), artists Cristina Nunez and Huw Wahl, and participants from the north-west region who are in longer-term recovery. Everyone involved has some kind of recovery experience, whether from substance mis-use, or as someone affected by substance mis-use and/or mental health issues.

The research is funded by the AHRC as part of the Utopian Festival under the Connected Communities strand. Art work produced by the artists and participants will be shown at Somerset house during the Utopian Fair from June 24th - 26th 2016 and there will be interactive sessions involving self portraiture."

Text quoted from website of the project

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