Photographing delusions

Singapore art collective A Dose of Light exhibited some poignant and beautiful photographs by Wu Xiao Kang, a 26 year-old man with schizophrenia who later killed himself.

The show gained international acclaim and only later was it revealed that Kang was fictional, a creation of the collective who had taken the photos themselves.

The project consisted of 36 photos supposedly taken by Kang of an abandoned psychiatric hospital in which he was previously treated.

A Dose of Light designed the whole project as a conceptual artwork to portray the breakdown of reality that sometimes occurs in schizophrenia.

Several galleries and events hosted the exhibition in good faith, and one gallery has now pulled the exhibition in protest.

According to one newspaper report, the group decided to come clean on July 1st when a mental health charity wanted to use the images to promote awareness of mental illness in Singapore.

However, I first saw the photos at Bonkers Fest, an art and music event held in Camberwell, London on June 2nd, that also promotes awareness of mental health issues and is organised by a number of mental health charities.

In this case, there was no admission that the Kang was fictional and the photos were presented as genuine.

One member of the collective, Robert Zhao is a fine art student at Camberwell College of Arts, who were also partly involved in organising the festival.

Link to online ‘Wu Xiao Kang’ exhibition.
Link to Metafilter on the controversy.

One Comment

  1. Posted July 16, 2007 at 2:09 am | Permalink

    All I can say is WTF? A social experiment on peoples perception of imaginary art of a non-existing schizophrenic who (never) killed himself.
    Not pushing stereotypes of suicide and schizophrenia no.


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