Enstranglements: Undercover in Arts for Health

SHAW, Becky, SCHRAG, Anthony, WILLIAMS, Frances and SMITH, Sarah (2022). Enstranglements: Undercover in Arts for Health. Performance Research: a journal of the performing arts, 26 (8), 52-55.

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Official URL: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13528...
Open Access URL: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/135281... (Published)
Link to published version:: https://doi.org/10.1080/13528165.2021.2087375


The UK arts for health movement is ensnared in a double bind of co-opted insider and critical outsider: on one hand seeking to be at the centre of government approved delivery of wellbeing (such as social prescribing) and on the other hand understanding its history as a force critical of dehumanizing clinical practices and environments. Champions of Arts for Health talk about how artists ‘make spaces’ that are an escape from ‘business as usual’ ‘a sanctuary or suspended, protected space, where new things are possible’ (Gould 2005; Kilroy et al. 2007; Putland 2008; Sixsmith & Kagan 2005; White, 2004). Any ‘under the radar’ spaces that are made by Arts for Health, however, still happen in UK health institutions: a context understood as collapsing under its own encluttered weight with conflicting policy, performances, practices, values and cultures. In the following we explore two live rtworks that work with and are formed by, this materially and politically ‘enstrangled’ environment. We explore the multiple and connected points where visibility and the covert already hover in the hospital and explore whether there are other material forms through which to consider being ‘undercover’ such as ‘burrowing’ , as a dark celebration of the material and social affordances of the hospital. Devised by artists Becky Shaw and Anthony Schrag, the two live artworks– Hiding in Plain Sight and The Secret Society for Imperfect Nurses – were part of an education programme for healthcare students developed at King’s College London (KCL), curated by Frances Williams for the ‘UTOPIA 2016’ London festival. We explore the conditions of the commissions and how the particular constraints, contradictions and affordances of the institution, germinated these respective live works. Ironically, the UTOPIA 2016 festival took place within a year of UK National Health Service cuts and austerity measures, precipitating highly visible NHS strikes and protests (that included some of our participants).

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Art and Design Research Centre; Department of Art and Design; 1901 Art Theory and Criticism; 1904 Performing Arts and Creative Writing; Drama & Theater
Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.1080/13528165.2021.2087375
Page Range: 52-55
SWORD Depositor: Symplectic Elements
Depositing User: Symplectic Elements
Date Deposited: 13 Oct 2022 12:01
Last Modified: 12 Oct 2023 09:46
URI: https://shura.shu.ac.uk/id/eprint/30863

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