Facing the Demon: The Agony and the Ecstasy

Michelle LaRiviere

August 2 - 30, 2008

Facing the Demon: The Agony and the Ecstasy

Facing the Demon is a multi-media exhibition that explores the different facets of Bipolar Affective Disorder from an insider?s point of view. Through drawings, paintings, and video installation, the artist portrays what she calls the three main states of her illness. Agony and ecstasy each refer to intensely visceral experiences, and are terms she uses to more aptly describe the depressions and manias. The third, and most difficult state, she calls madness ? ?the place where you just hang on by your fingernails until it passes (mixed state).?

Altered states have held a certain fascination throughout history, though Western attitudes have changed over time. In Madness and Civilization, Foucault asserted that up until the late seventeenth century, mental illness was tolerated. In fact, those who suffered were regarded with respect. However, the onset of the Industrial Revolution saw the confinement, the exclusion, and the marginalization of the mentally ill, causing shame and the dreadful stigma that persists to this day.

LaRiviere hopes that by undertaking this project she is aiding the current trend in mental health awareness and its efforts at shrinking the gap between understanding and acceptance, and misconception and alienation.

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