Framing Madness: Anthony Mannix and the Art of Schizophrenia

By Gareth Jenkins.

Published by The Arts Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This essay will concentrate on the artist-book practice of Anthony Mannix. Mannix has produced over 80 artist-books (numbering approximately 6000 pages) in a 30 year career. At times Mannix has created works that draw together text, image and sound. Mannix links his artistic hybridity to his long experience of schizophrenic psychosis, which he feels allows him to physically access landscapes within his unconscious. Mannix is well read in the areas of psychiatry, anti-psychiatry, shamanism, Art Brut/Outsider Art, avant-garde literature and fine art and contextualises his own practice, and the psychosis that drives it, with reference to such discourses. The multi-faceted manner in which Mannix narrates psychosis comes into conflict with psychiatry’s medicalised narrative regarding mental illness; Mannix self consciously interrogates this narrative clash in his work, thus elucidating a unique vision of the experience of madness and the treatment of those deemed mad by the medical profession. A central point of contention is Mannix’s belief that, for him, psychosis is a valuable experience (though he acknowledges its traumatic aspects), one that is central to his sense of creativity – the “engine room” that powers what he calls his “art of schizophrenia”. Mannix’s continued expression of his psychotic world-view in art works and text can be framed as a political act of resistance against psychiatry’s attempts to silence him through monologic re-narration. Such a framing, however, also limits Mannix’s work and highlights the academy’s capacity to likewise silence its subject.

Keywords: Anthony Mannix, Experimental Literature, Outsider Art, Narration, Psychiatry, Hybridity, Madness, Schizophrenia, Psychotic Hallucination, Academic Method, The Atomic Book, Lived-metaphor

International Journal of the Arts in Society, Volume 5, Issue 6, pp.243-254. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 715.710KB).

Dr. Gareth Jenkins

Sessional Academic, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, The Red Room Company, Sydney, NSW, Australia

Dr. Gareth S. Jenkins currently works in alternative education for Save The Children Australia and runs poetry writing workshops in schools and jails for The Red Room Company. He has taught at a variety of Sydney-based universities in the areas of experimental literature, ficto-criticism and poetic studies. He was awarded his PhD, which explored the experimental writing practices of Anthony Mannix, in 2008. His theoretical work focuses on avant-garde literature and art-makers that have experienced schizophrenia. He holds a Masters degree in psychology and has presented his research in Australia, Europe and the U.S.A. Gareth’s creative work includes poetry, digital media and performance. He has performed, exhibited and published in Australia and internationally.

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