SICK! Festival is a shared space of “experiences, reflection and connection” brought together to form an international arts programme that promotes healthy living and wellbeing. The festival addresses all challenges of life including physical, mental, and social issues that many people struggle with and face daily. Academic researchers, clinical practitioners, charities, and public health professionals work together along with real people experiencing such issues, to produce a festival raising awareness around health and happiness.
The idea is that it spreads conversation within communities and gets people talking about all aspects of life, using the arts to do so. From the 8th — 25th March, SICK! Festival is taking over Manchester with numerous events to inspire people from all walks of life to listen to other’s stories and consider their journeys to happiness. A collaboration of art projects and social performances allow festival organisers and partakers to reach out and engage people who are either suffering from some of life’s challenges or just wanting to find out more.
One art installation that gained recognition all over campus at the University of Manchester was Candy Chang’s ‘Before I Die’ project. Inspired by a recent death in the family, Chang covered an installation resembling a crumbling house with a chalkboard and the words “Before I die…” written at the top. Many passers-by embraced the concept and scribbled future life plans or thoughts, encouraging others to do so also. The project has been created in over 70 countries including Iraq, Brazil, and Kazakhstan and is successful in revealing the hidden “anxieties, joys and struggles” of a community.
Another festival event inspiring openness is the ‘Living Library’ workshop, which offers 15-minute slots of raw and unique stories of the struggles in life regarding mental illness. Visitors can ask questions and connect with people sharing their stories in this workshop, which aims to shine a light on such issues without shadowing or stigma. The idea is to change attitudes towards mental illness by spurring honest conversation.
One performance based on the lives of homeless men on the streets of Manchester, is that of Jamil Keating and his production of ‘Asteroid RK1’. The piece will convey messages about “outer-space” and our “inner city streets” with a focus on “addictions and asteroids” and “human rights and meteorites”. This particular event will be next held on Friday 24th March at the Wilfrid’s Enterprise Centre.
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