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The Idea Behind the Ship of Fools Project

Navigating with the Mad

I have had a project in mind for a while and finally I’m making some progress and started a prototype. The project The Ship of Fools is basically an interactive installation inspired by Michael Foucault's 1961 book Madness & Civilization: A History of Insanity in the Age of Reason' which looks at the history of madness in society.

I have used the symbolism of the ship, madness and the sea to create the basis for the installation and my imagination was captured by the metaphor of the medieval ship of fools, set adrift from mainstream society and destined to navigate unknown waters, lost in the margins forever.

The metaphorical image of the ship triggered feelings of being lost, alienation, seclusion and isolation. I had the urge to represent this image somehow, asking myself where exactly does it belong – on the sea or the shore? What should I do with all its passengers? Different feelings of uncertainty and duality made me think of the ship as an inverted image. My intention was to empty that vessel and release its contents on the space without breaking its original structure.

I thought the ship as an inverted image, turned upside-down to allow a space for people to consider and reflect on the role of madness and the marginal in our own world. Where do we position ourselves as professionals when working with people from the margins? How do we engage with them? Are we ready to receive what they bring and what do we do with that? What do we do with our own madness and is it safe to accept it?


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