Tesla Talk: Alexa Wright

A View From Inside and other work

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Friday 9th December 2011


University College London

Garwood Lecture Theatre

Gower Street, London



In the context of some older photographic works such as 'I' (1999) and After Image' (1997), Alexa will talk about 'A View From Inside', a new series of digitally manipulated portraits made in collaboration with people diagnosed with conditions such as Schizophrenia or Bipolar Disorder.  These photographs re-appropriate the pictorial convention of characterizing a person visually through his or her physique, stance and expression as well as by the arrangement of particular symbolic and narrative elements within the image. In each case the external appearance and the internal experiences of the person portrayed are depicted within a single, formally structured portrait. The aim is not to exoticise the ‘unreal’ or bizarre perceptual experiences of the subjects, but to find a visual language that will provoke discussion and add to our understanding of the experience of mental illness and of psychosis in particular. The presentation will explore the construction of reality as an embodied experience and will question the notion of 'madness'.



Alexa Wright is an artist who works with photography, video, sound and interactive digital media. She is interested in portraiture in its broadest sense. Alexa has worked across the domains of art and science
for more than ten years. In addition to her collaborations with medical scientists, several of Alexa’s projects have involved working closely with people with medical conditions or disabilities. Alexa’s works usually challenge expectations, sometimes undermining the conventional boundaries between art, science and technology in order to question what is acceptably human.

In 2009 Alexa completed a doctoral thesis entitled ‘Out of Order, an Investigation into the Visual Significance of Human Monstrosity’, a version of which will shortly be published by IB Tauris. She is par of an interdisciplinary group of artists and scientists based at University of Toronto, who are conducting research into the psycho-social effects of heart transplant. Alexa is currently working on an AHRC funded project to create a series of digitally manipulated photographic portraits of people who experience episodes of psychosis in which their sense of reality is altered.