Curated by Nina Liebenberg and Fabian Saptouw, the Suspicious Mind exhibition was shown in the Michaelis gallery in August 2013 , coinciding with the international Neuropsychoanalysis conference (NPSA) held at Hiddingh Hall.
The exhibition showcased artists whose work resonated with the theme of mind and matter (these included Willem Boshoff’s Political Candyfloss, Pippa Skotnes’s Freud, Darwin and Fanon clocks, Fritha Langerman’s Morton’s Method, Malcolm Payne’s Pox, Doreen Southwood’s Anorexia Nervosa, Nicholas Hlobo’s Chitha, Paul Edmund’s Fan and an array of others). Along with these work, the curators sought to activate viewer participation through Walls of Free Association, psycho-pharmaceutical dance moves, a screening room complete with a Freudian couch, showing Atomic Brain Invasion, They Saved Hitler’s Brain and a range of other brain-related movies.
Materials were gathered from different University of Cape Town departments – and further afield: Brain specimens from the Pathology Learning Centre, educational anatomical models from the M.C Drennan Anatomy Museum, old equipment from the Chemistry and Medical School departments, equipment sourced from Tygerberg Hospital, X-rayed medicinal plant specimens from Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, prints depicting Leonardo da Vinci sketches, phrenological charts and 1840 textbooks from the UCT Rare Books Collection. Michaelis lecturer and practicing artist Katherine Bull contacted willing NPSA conference delegates from all over the world to sit for Skype portraits (painted ambidextrously). These systematically filled a wall in the gallery – and delighted conference-goers on opening night.
The exhibition also formed part of the Honours in Curatorship programme and the Virtual Display elective with students creating multiple curatorial projects as part of the online exhibition catalogue and archive.
We were privileged to have Professor Marina Wallace deliver the opening speech at the well-attended opening. A second gallery event was organised to coincide with the NPSA conference, during which Archbishop Desmond Tutu spoke and artists, students and delegates had the opportunity to meet and interact.
In 2014, Comacare approached the curators to stage Suspicious Mind as part of their World Design Capital Project, Brainstorm the City. A non-profit organisation (NPO) based at Groote Schuur Hospital, they work with disadvantaged individuals and communities in and around Cape Town, supporting traumatic brain injury survivors and their families from the acute stage of injury and on through the recovery process. Shown at the Iziko National Gallery Annexe, numerous school groups visited the show and the walkabouts, which were led by the curators and a variety of neuroscientists.