Mental Status Consolidation
This piece is for the artists grandparents, one of whom has had dementia for over a year now and is rapidly declining in health.
The piece Mental Status Consolidation (2020) explores the physical and mental deterioration of the mind. Specifically, this work relates to illnesses such as Dementia or Alzheimer’s as they are extremely prominent in today’s society. In Australia dementia is the “second leading cause of death” since 2016 with around “three out of 10 people over the age of 85 and almost one in 10 people over the age of 65 having Dementia” (Australia, 2020). The aim of the artwork video is to raise awareness about this dire and extremely common issue, as many Australians today are unaware of the danger it poses as well as the signs for early detection. The recurring themes throughout the collage like piece is that of the fragility of the mind, melancholy, fear and loss of precious memories. Throughout the video we see several symbols of the mind’s deterioration, those symbols include an apple, a coin, and photographs with their faces blackened and burned. All of the images reoccur during the video with a poem written by the artist being narrated in the background. Sounds of a penny dropping, the crunch of an apple, sometimes birds chirping in the background can be heard. However, the viewer will mostly likely focus on the words which are being spoken as they are more familiar than the disjointed sounds, which can be hard to identify. By focusing on close ups during the piece the artist was able to distort their meaning, by making the objects unfamiliar and unnatural. Speeding up and slowing down sections of the videos, gives the effect of time displacement, and of loss of memories long past. Speeding up the video confuses the audience as they may miss important aspects shown, juxtaposing the slow shots that emphasise understanding and comprehension. The editing of these images together with the audio depicts an accelerating degradation of the mind, and what is lost along the way; speech, physical movement, and memories are all warped. Blacking out the faces in the images depicts the loss of memory in the disappearance of people and places but lets the audience imagine their own memories fading away. The symbolism of the words apple, penny and table are used as a homage to mental status consolidation screening done by doctors, in which a person is asked several questions to determine if they have a memory impairment (Notebook, 2020). These words have been used for over 70 years, becoming almost famous, and yet they remain the same because the memory loss associated with dementia, prevents their retention regardless.
Tamara Davis is a third year visual artist student studying at QUT. She is passionate about changing the world with her art by raising awareness to the community about important issues.