The international traveling project PARALLEL EXPERIENCES reflects via contemporary art the problem of social exclusion of people suffering from mental disorders. Our society includes a significant number of people with mental disorders. About 20% of the population is stricken by some form of mental disorder during their lifetime, with the most serious form – psychotic disorders (such as schizophrenia, acute psychotic disorders, etc.) affecting about 1-2% of the population. Sooner or later, people persistently suffering from some kind of mental disorder are often isolated and excluded from society. At first, this is caused by needed long term hospitalization, later, by complicated or even impossible integration back into society. Often they lose their families, friends or jobs. As a result, their standard of living decreases significantly, they live in isolation, on welfare or subsidized payments, or they are placed in mental institutions or specialized homes for seniors.
In general, society knows very little about the topic of mental disorders, with many prevailing myths and views constructing barriers in the way of adequate professional help. Due to this inclination, the mentally ill are often ashamed of their illness and feel stigmatized by it.
The goal of the project PARALLEL EXPERIENCES is to open a dialogue between the community of people with mental disorders, experts and the general public. PARALLEL EXPERIENCES is trying to point out the fact that the problem of social exclusion of this particular group is everyone’s problem.
The project consists of four separate yet closely connected parts:
1. Parallel Worlds – exhibition of artworks created by people with mental disorders called Embodiment of the Spiritual
2. Parallel Story – interactive screening of the film On Our Own
3. Parallel Experience –series of lectures for the public followed by discussions
4. Parallel Sites – dance, theater and music performances
The project PARALLEL EXPERIENCES has been developed as part of the European Year of Fighting Poverty and Social Exclusion. The project will take place from September 2010 until March 2011 in Prague, followed by Bratislava, Vienna and Dresden.
The project has been carried out under the patronage of
doc. MUDr. Leoš Heger, Csc., Minister of Health of the Czech Republic.