Documentary and book, in collaboration with dancer, art therapist and professor Cássia Charrison
In 2004, the mental health hospital Dr. Eiras (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), the largest private mental health asylum in Latin America at the time, went under federal intervention after 120 people died over 4 months. In an effort to prepare the institution for closure and place patients in more humane/ autonomous facilities, Cassia Charrison, a contemporary dancer who had been studying therapy through movement, was invited to work with the patients. The idea was to give voice to their bodies so they could communicate more clearly, return to walking, eating and talking again, faculties that most of them had lost during their period of incarceration and abuse.
Cassia’s practice blends the method of counciousnes thorugh movement with the tradition of healing through afection and art pioneered in Brazil by psichiatrist Nise da Silveira, who also founded the Museum of the Images of the Unconscious in 1952. When I saw Cassia interacting with the group for the first time, I was perplexed by how organically she communicated with them. Despite those people were severely impaired regarding their speech and general social interaction, it seemed very possible to communicate with them. I’ve been following her work since, and in 2021 we’re releasing a full feature documentary, and publishing a book with the interviews made for the film.
Short video pieces have been screened along Cássia’s talks at Angel Vianna Dance College Colloquium (2013), at Angel Ocupa NISE (2018), and at SVA’s Flatiron Gallery as part of the show Concerning Human Understanding (2015).