SELFIE & I
Mental illness, performance society
and toxic positivity
by Christiane Mudra
SELFIE & ICH (SELFIE &I) is based on investigative research and conversations with people living with mental illness, thereby offering insight into their experiences, feelings and desires.
A patient file from the post-war decades further illustrates the embattled reform efforts in Germany's psychiatric hospitals as well as the stigmatization and shame in the immediate vicinity of those affected.
The evening sheds light on mental burdens, examines preconceptions as well as the hesitancy surrounding mental illness, and questions the omnipresent assessment of individuals based on their private and professional "performance."
SELFIE & ICH dissects the tension between appearance and reality and, last but not least, sheds light on the systemic distortion of our performance-oriented society.
The audience moves in small groups through several apartments in Haidhausen, where performers embody anxiety disorders, burnout, depression, anorexia, schizophrenia and alcohol addiction.
The intimate setting allows the audience to sense the loneliness and isolation of the city dwellers behind the facade of a performance-based society.
Through 3D audio recordings, the protagonists’ interview-based streams of consciousness are spatially mapped: Their voices encircle audience members and make it possible for them to slip into the role of the first-person narrators.
This effect is accentuated by the original recordings of interview partners as well as the implementation of psychoacoustic tools. Sound is also transmitted at specific points via seats or objects and involuntarily triggers a physical reaction in the participants.
About 27.8% of adults in Germany are affected by at least one mental illness each year. This corresponds to 17.8 million people. The most common disorders are anxiety disorders, followed by depression and dependency disorders. WHO projections show that in the highest-income countries, three-quarters of the illnesses that most affect quality of life will be mental by 2030.
At the same time, our society is characterized by boundless positivity that increases the pressure on the individual. Happiness has become a status symbol, the beaming smile the norm. In social media posts, the staged life is presented as a product of success. Assessment models influence "self-worth" around the clock and distort reality. The toxicity of this forced positivity is reflected in happiness mantras on teas, shower gels or kitchen rolls.
In the Nazi era, people who were not fit for work were considered "unworthy of life." Old or sick people are still told that they are no longer worth anything. Today, many "high-performers" can also be found in psychosomatic clinics.
What roles do work performance and social norms play in self-worth and the social evaluation of people?
Every third person in Germany is affected by a mental illness in the course of their life.
Against this backdrop, "SELFIE & ICH" wants to let those affected have their say in order to educate people about mental illness, promote empathy, break down preconceptions and dissolve the hesitancy surrounding mental illness.
The ultimate goal of the evening is to advocate for a more inclusive, more social society and a more humane, recovery-oriented psychiatry.
Research, text and direction: Christiane Mudra
Other speakers: Stefan Lehnen, Christiane Mudra
3D Sound Design: Martin Rieger
Technical advice and collaboration Research Tina Hofmann
Equipment: Sarah Silbermann
Structure-borne sound and light design: Peer Quednau
CGI/VFX: Yavuz Narin
Graphics: Jara López Ballonga
Photos: Verena Kathrein
Assistant director: Daniela Gancheva
Production: ehrliche arbeit - free cultural office
Press: Kathrin Schäfer KulturPR
Uraufführung gefördert von
im Rahmen der Optionsförderung
Berlin-Premiere unterstützt durch das NATIONALE PERFORMANCE NETZ Gastspielförderung
Theater, gefördert von der Beauftragten der Bundesregierung für Kultur und
Medien, sowie den Kultur- und Kunstministerien der Länder
sowie vom Kulturreferat der Landeshauptstadt München und der Schulze-Fielitz-Stiftung.
in Kooperation mit