The Mancunion

Britain's biggest student newspaper

Interview: Cara Looij on (IN)SANE

Orla Quilligan talks to Cara Looij, project manager of multimedia arts event (IN)SANE

By

Cara Looij boiled down for me what her event (IN)SANE, taking place at Texture on 19th March, is all about: “(IN)SANE is a multimedia arts event which aims to open a platform for artists to explore testimony through creative practice regarding mental health experiences, and all the money raised for the event will be going to 42nd Street.”

42nd Street is a charity that aims to support young people aged 11-25 with their mental health. They also (in their own words) “champion young person centred approaches that demonstrate local impact and have national significance.” The charity is so important in Looij’s eyes as she believes, “young people often aren’t taken seriously enough, especially when it comes to mental health.” In particular, she thinks that young women’s mental health is often belittled; their expression of it sometimes seen as just attention-seeking.

With the aim of raising £1000, Looij, along with Julia Morgan and Sam Williams, have involved over fifty artists to contribute to the event — all using completely different media, from spoken word to duologues, film, and more. Looij’s mother is even in on the act, making a portrait of a friend from university who suffered from fluctuating mental health. Looij believes it was important to exclude no one from the event and instead create a safe space that acts as a platform to create discussion and to both celebrate and empower.

Looij spoke on her fears of how the the event could be anticipated: “we were worried that it could come across as something harrowing, or something that made people dwell on sadness. We wanted it to be about moving past those times and what people have learnt from their experiences. We want to reimagine the conversation around mental health because everyone has mental health in the same way they have physical health. We want to talk about something hard without it being hard to talk about.”

I asked her if she thinks drama lends itself particularly well to collaboration and campaigning. She pointed out that although it was through drama that she met Morgan and Williams, as well as learnt how to go about putting on events, the artists and collaborators featured at (IN)SANE hark from all sorts of artistic disciplines, including no creative experience at all.

In fact, she believes that “everyone is creative in their own way” and that work coming from those untrained in any particular discipline is “fresh. It’s less filtered. There’s no pretence to it. I think sometimes that’s the best type of art — it’s true to you – it’s not made to be good, but to simply make something.”

With this philosophy, I can certainly see how (IN)SANE will be a positive platform to get people creating art and performance and to really open people up to talking about the ‘challenging’ topic of mental health and I can’t wait to see what the event has to offer.

You can purchase tickets for (IN)SANE on Skiddle.