“For They Let In The Light“ is a new live commission at Chisenhale Gallery by artist and mental health activist the vacuum cleaner (aka James Leadbitter), developed with a group of young artists he met during Spring 2021 at the Coborn Centre for Adolescent Mental Health in Newham, East London.
In his performances, films and site-specific interventions, the vacuum cleaner draws on his own experience of mental health disability, working with young people, health professionals and adults to challenge how mental health is understood, treated and experienced. This project responds to a crisis in young people’s mental health, amplifying the experiences of those uniquely isolated by the Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns.
In an intensive period of on-site work at the Coborn Centre, James and artistic collaborator Caroline Moore prompted the group to respond creatively to the question, “why are so many young people struggling with their mental health?” The resulting material – stories, dance, and music – captures textures of their physical and emotional environments.
Once discharged from the hospital, the group came together again. The new focus became how to critically and carefully share work of such intensity and personal valence. “For They Let In The Light”, a series of hybrid open-studio events combining recordings with live performances, is the result.