Film: Mad World Exhibition; The Asylum of Doctor Rosenhan

This is a short film made around the Mad World Exhibition, a part of the Ragged University project which brought together lots of artwork in a space exploring and challenging narratives of madness. Mad World is a publicly owned collection of perspectives which challenge and move forward discussions surrounding mental health.  The Mad World exhibition took place in Gallery One of Edinburgh Palette, St Margarets House.

Mad World Exhibition

The premiss was that as the viewer walked into the gallery, they were presented with the question ‘Work out who here is diagnosed as mad ?’. Everyone was invited to hang a work, diagnosed or undiagnosed, named or anonymous.
As people walked around the room ten information panels gave a different excerpt from a different source on social issues and a summary of Dr David Rosenhan’s famous experiment ‘On Sane People In Insane Places’.

He and his colleagues, such as Martin Seligman, checked themselves into mental asylums to observe from the inside and then found it difficult to get back out….



The exhibition was thought about so that it brought together with a logic puzzle which people can think about as they reflect on the various artworks and informations they are presented. For more information and a deeper insight into what content was in the exhibition, please visit the Mad World Archive

It is part of a long running effort to reveal more of the emerging conceptions of mental health in light of mad studies degree courses which have emerged and which represent a critical moment in re-evaluating some common practices which go on.

The audio tracks which accompany the video are:

  • Mad World by Gary Jules
  • ‘Im Mad As Hell’ excerpt from the film Network
  • Gnossiennes by Erik Satie played by Jean-Yves Thibaudet

The audio track is composed of work which has come to be emblematic for people who live with the labels of madness.  Modern media is now a language which is used to converse in the spaces where words have not reached.  Art provides a means for communicating what has not yet been expressed or entered into common language.  Art spaces have a unique quality in that we expect to see a collection of individuals held in-relation amongst a space; this means that identities are not subsumed as readily as in other spaces.