Sydney is no exception when it comes to consumerism. As many of us can relate to, a fast paced over-consuming inner city lifestyle can be quite stressful and often mentally draining.
Elizabeth Commandeur and Mark Starmach (both sydney based artists) are exploring how to combat issues of poor mental wellbeing associated with the over-stimulation of city living with their latest installation “Intangible Goods”.
Intangible goods will be part of The City of Sydney’s Art & About program and will consist of a simple vending machine with a slight twist. Like many vending machines, people can purchase a simple snack. The ‘twist’ - snacks won’t be food for the body, but instead be feeding the mind.
To work out how exactly to do this Elizabeth and Mark teamed up with mental health professionals and surveyed 600 Sydneysiders to identify the top 10 things missing from their lives for good mental wellbeing. The number one thing identified as missing was a “closer connection with others’, something relevant to 100 Resilient Cities, Resilient Sydney Strategy developed in 2014 to address chronic shocks and stresses affecting our city.
Elizabeth and Mark then placed these top 10 things into packets with each packet containing a set of cards offering a deeper meaning to each sentiment.
Whilst the aim of this project was to raise awareness of consumerism and mental health, many may still question the sustainability of this project. Well don’t worry Elizabeth and Mark were also extremely conscious of this throughout the whole creation process looking at ways to cut down on wastage for every element of this project. Elizabeth and Mark ensured all 4,000 of these mental goodness packets were made of recycled paper and reduced issues of circulation by assembling and sealing every packet themselves with some help from family members.
As far as the collaboration between these two artists, this is not the first time they have worked together, their first project ‘Tinder Takeover’ dedicated to International Women’s Day occurred in 2014. Elizabeth has also worked on many other projects dedicated to social issues such as marriage equality, violence against women and battery farming chickens in Hong Kong.
This project is unique in the way it uses the creative industry as a vehicle to tackle mental wellbeing, with the hope that and the hope is it will not only brighten the day of those who purchase these mental snacks, but also raise increase awareness around the importance of mental health. The project will also help raise funding for mental health organisations with the proceeds of these snacks going to beyondblue, The Mental Health Organisation NSW and The Schizophrenia Research Institute.
If you're interested in reading more, see some links below!
Photo Credit - Katherine Griffiths
Mark Starmach - here
Beyondblue - here
Posted on behalf of Matthew Salamone