This artwork by Alice Burns explores urban myths regarding mental health using the definition of ‘myth’ by William Bascom. “They are accepted on faith; they are taught to be believed; and they can be cited as authority in answer to ignorance, doubt, or disbelief.” 1

The work is based on the construct of the ‘urban myth’, a collection of narratives via a blog and a video installation. Participants are asked, “Do you believe in mental illness” they are free to answer this question in whatever way they wish. Using the aesthetic of the ‘urban myth’ actors not necessarily the authors of the blog posts read a sentence or two from the blog posts to video. The video provides an alternative vehicle for the narratives to be presented to another audience and the ‘myth’ progresses.

This artwork was first created for Arts & Disability Ireland’s Curated Space in 2013 curated by Maeve Mulrennan.

1. William Bascom, The Forms of Folklore: Prose Narratives Vol. 78, No. 307 Journal of American Folklore Jan.-March, 1965) (John Mosier “War Myths” Historically Speaking: The Bulletin of the Historical Society:VI:4 March/April 2005.) As in the case of myth, these narratives are believed because they construct and reinforce the worldview of the group within which they are told, or “because they provide us with coherent and convincing explanations of complex events”


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