Frank Lebon, James Massiah, Mary Stephenson and Wilfrid Wood join a line-up of 50 artists taking part in I’m Fine, an exhibition in London investigating masculinity and male mental health. Each artist was sent a brief asking them to consider “breaking down the wall” surrounding the topic. The collection of responses aims to promote discussion about the “failures of communication around male mental illness and try to envisage a masculinity that isn’t toxic”.
The show is curated by the team behind Brainstorm, a project set up by Sophia Compton, Max Hayter and Dulcie Menzie. Dulcie’s dad committed suicide, which is one of the main prompters for initiating the project. “His family had no idea of what had been going on inside his head,” say the curators. “He hadn’t felt able to talk about it, even with them. The gender role assigned to men actively encourages this. This exhibition sets out to investigate and challenge this brittle gender role… no man will ever live up to masculine stereotypes.” They also say the recent outpouring of reports of sexual harassment across industries reinforces the importance of having this discussion now.
Alice Aedy is showing a photographic portrait of her younger brother, who has suffered with depression for many years, and worked with her on the series to “question the notion of putting on a brave face”. Alice says the shot “confronts the viewer with the isolation and withdrawal felt by those suffering with this silent epidemic”.
Eloise Knights and Jude Gardner-Rolfe are showing a film, Alpha Tools, that looks at the effect of controlling your behaviour to fit with restrictive ideas of masculinity. “Jude is a gay man, and so the ideas stem from his experience of dealing with the mental struggles of policing his own actions in order to be less outwardly ‘feminine’ growing up. We wanted the film to have an exhausting pace to it.”
Also on the roster for the show are Wilson Oryema, Oliver Macdonald Oulds, Raf Fellner, Greta Bellamacina, Carlo Volpi, Norm Magnusson, Celia Delaney and Eliot Fox.