Friday, April 15, 2016

Sarah Anne Johnson's Hospital Hallway Reviewed by Murray Whyte in the Toronto Star

Sian Richards / Courtesy Division Gallery

"In a way, it’s a descent she’s made thousands of times. It’s the set for Hospital Hallways, the well-known Winnipeg photo-artist’s first ever performance piece and a little background goes a long way to explaining why. In 1956, her grandmother, Velma Orlikow, checked herself into the Allan Memorial Institute, a psychiatric care facility at McGill University in Montreal. She suffered from postpartum depression and was looking for a speedy recovery to get on with the happy business of new mothering.

Instead, unknowingly, she fell into a mind-control drug experiment administered by Dr. Ewen Cameron on behalf of the CIA. MKUltra, as it was later revealed, used test subjects without their knowledge and against their will. Three years later, after several stints in Cameron’s care, Orlikow finally emerged to rejoin normal life. But she had brought back a plague of mental trauma: severe depression, fear of crowds, an inability to concentrate.

"Hospital Hallways is Johnson’s attempt to embody her grandmother’s inner torment. Masked with Velma’s face, Johnson braces herself between walls, shimmying unsteadily to the space’s full height, or collapses across its breadth on the floor before inverting herself in a gruesome reverse headstand, her legs convulsing with a grisly clatter against the wall." - Murray Whyte, April 2016

To read the complete article please visit:

Sarah Anne Johnson's artist page:

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