Navigating a space between autobiography, therapy, and performance, PANDEMANIAC uses Covid-19 lockdown as an opportunity to consider what a visual language of mental disorder might look like.
With a history of depression, disordered eating, and body dysmorphia, Moreno – like many others – found that isolation and unemployment during lockdown presented considerable challenges to their mental health. PANDEMANIAC queers common motifs of the pandemic in an attempt to provide both testament and a process of art-as-therapy.
Influenced by psychoanalytic theory and epic theatre, Moreno uses the mask and alienation to share a heightened version of their lived experience. Referencing the explicitly fake language of fashion and luxury goods advertising – but always falling short of its standards of perfection – PANDEMANIAC suggests how the promises of conspicuous consumption are absurd in the context of social isolation. Additionally, the series provides an antidote to the mythologizing, hetero-normative neo-realism of the dominant lockdown photography in circulation this last year.
By turns playful and unsettling, the series moves through the current crisis to consider the broader themes it raises: fear, desire, the performance of identity, superstition, mortality, and our human need to connect.
Mitchell Moreno is a genderqueer, working-class artist from Leicester, UK. After studying at Cambridge University and the Royal Academy of Music they worked for a decade in theatre, opera, and circus - as a performer and director - before shifting their creative practice to photography.
Their work explores the construction of gender, the queer gaze, and art as therapy. It has been exhibited at FORMAT21, Singapore International Photography Festival, Copenhagen Photo Festival, Encontros da Imagem, and the National Portrait Gallery.