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FUNDED BY FWF: The Austrian Science Fund is Austria‘s central funding organization for basic research, PEEK: Programme for
Arts-based research: 366
Role: Project lead, artist, designer

YEAR: 2016 - 2017
LOCATION: Stilwerk, Vienna, AUSTRIA
DATE: 5.10.2017- 21.10.2017
EXHIBITION NAME: D.A.S. Status Quo (Dementia. Arts. Society.) | Exhibition (Archive of Confusion Patterns, Give Back for B, Umbrella for B.) & Workshops
PHOTOCREDITS: ©Ruth Mateus-Berr

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Objective of this concept art of the artist is to empathize with society on the topic of dementia via artistic interventions the discussion about confusion.

We have all experienced confusion at some time or other, feeling that a situation appeared familiar or foreign.
The Archive of Confusion workshops (2016—2018) initially had two objectives: collecting inner images of people and changing public perception of dementia by entering into dialogue with citizens.
Later, a further idea popped up: Using doodles to test dementia, as many national applied tests, e.g. remembering the clock or the time of day seems to be very embarrassing for people with dementia. Doodling without any force of aesthetics remind people of their childhood and is fun.
For developing a testing tool, a large number of samples (min. 10,000) is needed, because machine learning would have to be applied: similar interpretations have to be fed into the computer.
Ruth Mateus-Berr was interested in visual documentation and evaluating experiences. At the Archive of Confusions workshops (2016—2018), people were asked to draw and/or doodle in a very short time their image of confusion and the opposite. These mental images were collected from some hundred participants in Austria, Germany, Switzerland and Canada. They were then morphed by the computer program “Morph Age,” and evaluated by means of artistic research according to similarities and differences.
They then provoked empathetic discussions concerning the mental states of confusion by people with dementia.
Patterns of Confusion was the first exhibition and sampling of the doodles of the workshop participants in 2016 (Stilwerk) and AIL in 2017.

The artwork Umbrella for B. by Ruth Mateus-Berr represents her Sensory Workshop interview partner’s positive resources. When Mateus-Berr asked, “What is important for you?” B. told her about her passionate medical application of Bach Flowers as a part of health counseling. She uses these flowers as a resource for herself. Her motto is “The art of living is learning to dance in the rain instead of waiting for the sun to shine.” The umbrella represents the resources her interview partner informed her about during the Sensory Workshop. B.’s dementia-caused fragility is represented by a Japanese style paper umbrella. The construction was co-realized with Papierwespe, Beatrix Mapalagama (an Austrian paper artist). Her resources are expressed by the umbrella being coated with Bach Flowers, and the color yellow: “I am the sun,” as B. declared. The Umbrella for B. also evokes B.’s self-expressive attitude, showing up at the workshops with an umbrella and dressed in a variety of clothes. B. also loves to dance, and turning the umbrella gives the impression that B. is dancing.

The artist transcribed the dialogue, researched Bach flowers and arranged them in the program’s photoshop, interpreting and transferring the information into the art work Umbrella.

More information

"Give-Back for B":
People with dementia devoted their time to the research team to gain valuable insights into their needs and feelings during the Sensory Workshop. As a gesture
and token of their appreciation, team members developed for each person very individual Give Backs. For each participant they designed a unique object and presented it to them in person. These Give Backs make it easier for the participant to delve into memories, and allow their caregivers to enter into dialogue with them.
B. loves to engage in doing collages. Through the art work Give-Back for B., Ruth Mateus-Berr, designed a collage-box, called: ‘fragments of memories`, a plastic box size 20 x 20cm, with little magnetic objects of B´s most beloved things, which can be freely combined and enhanced, stories can be randomly retold and reinvented – there is no right or wrong narrative – in conversations with relatives, friends or caregivers, or simply on her own. This tool allows not only to contribute to an activity for the person with dementia, but also to start a dialogue for caregivers and relatives. Simultaneously, the box represents symbolically, exhibited at an art space, the diremption of memories.


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