Mental illness has always been part of our society. Established in 1247, Bethlehem Hospital, or ‘Bedlam’ as it derived from Middle English popular pronunciation, is the world’s oldest “lunatic” hospital. In an age when there was no state funding for hospitals, viewing the insane was legitimated and became an effective means for the exhortation of charitable donations. One of the more unsavoury side effects of the arrangement was the treatment of the hospital as an arena for entertainment where the public could visit for leisure purposes. For this reason Bedlam became notorious as a destination for the experience of madness and the abject. Bedlam became a byword for anarchy, chaos and confusion.
BEDLAM is an extended reality exhibition followed by an immersive documentary by artist Mat Collishaw. The experience propels the audience to the very heart of Bedlam asylum as it was in the 17th century: absurd, shocking, chaotic, grotesque, and ultimately poignant.
BEDLAM is an entirely dematerialised work accessible via a digital platform. It is designed to be experienced by anyone equipped with virtual reality equipment or via a computer or a smartphone.
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