Contemporary Madness was designed to clear up the hazy boundary separating the reality of perception from the rules of exception, featuring audiovisual creations that present the darker areas of the social order and the human mind using non-fiction and documentary work done in Spain. The works show the invisibility of the limits established by the discourses sanctioned by civil ordinances and medical and political convention.
The choice of these 25 films is aimed at questioning the methods, mechanisms and rules designed to categorise and treat mental illnesses, as well as the idea of ‘normalcy’, so that the viewer begins to question the very concept of madness. The overall view takes in a vast, intricate thematic landscape, reflecting the complexity of the topic, and is grouped into eight programmes contained in two large blocks: interior experiences and the relationship between the individual and their environment.
The first block includes physiological alterations to the brain and clinical cases of distorted perception, whether induced or inherited. There is no shortage of self-portraits from artists who, for therapeutic reasons, reveal themselves to the camera. This part also contains narratives about states considered pathological in settings that facilitate them and processes of social self-exclusion. These are, in short, documents about the response of medicine and the roads to psychiatric and psychological experimentation in the treatment of mental illness.
The second block looks at the influences of social settings on alterations in individual conduct with films on collective hysteria brought about by extreme situations like war and simulations of catastrophes as well as on the isolation measures induced by communication technologies and architecture, and the anxiety fed and streamlined by the imposition of a type of social order, from fashion to state control systems. Other films in this group look at strategies for promoting the mechanisms of self-censure used by religious, political and economic powers to regulate social behaviour on the basis of proclamations that perpetuate silence and the acceptance of existing norms or the elimination/cancellation of elements that distort the system.