river smith Greater Manchester, United Kingdom
hi. i'm a queer non-binary autistic artist currently based in manchester, uk. Key words I associate with my work are: interactivity, immersiveness, sensory manipulation, lighting affects, darkness, confinement, discomfort, tactility, industrial materials, soft textures, reflective/shiny surfaces, duality, fluorescent colour, limited colour palettes, distorted perception, distressing sound, text.
My practice focuses on exploring mental health conditions, informed by the lived experience of both collaborators and autobiographical events. I investigate conditions including; eating disorders, depression, borderline personality disorder, self harm + grief. I aim to use the vulnerable and invasive subject matter to create interactive, immersive installations. These tense and sometimes distressing spaces are designed to evoke a sense of discomfort in my audience. A question central to my work is; ‘how I can use my audience's discomfort as a tool to evoke change, understanding, and empathy?’
I attempt to mirror the psychological pain of living with mental illness using a combination of found audio, performance, painting, film, textiles and typography. Manipulating the sensory environment to communicate feelings of fear, isolation, anger, sadness, guilt, and anxiety. Experimenting with materiality, confinement and utilising natural human anxiety to create physical sensations within my audience.
Part of what my work attempts to do is to confront the stigmas and perceptions ingrained within our society by inviting the audience to immerse themselves within of a range of disorders. To humanise the reality of living with an illness and stimulate conversation about the way our society copes with mental health. Suggesting we look again at the neurology of those around us and ourselves whilst considering the stigma that still shrouds many conditions in shame. I believe it is only through more frequent and unreserved discourse we will see an increase in positive, progressive change towards the acceptance, education and treatment of mental health.
As a non-binary artist some works/exhibitions are listed under my deadname. Please refrain from using this in any future publications, notes or media. Thanks, River (they/them)