I made a interview in this magazine about our new short film MANIFESTATION and mental health issues. You can read it here on this page or in PDF on page 34-39 by pressing this link: Interview in CreativPaper.pdf
We live in a society driven by imagery and success. Social media is inundated with images of perfect bodies and beach holidays. Some might say that life hasn’t been better. But as most of us know, this is a facade. Users of social media platforms have reported increasing levels of loneliness, anxiety and depression. The pressure to keep up placespressure on the strongest of minds. Artist Danny Germansen, through his art and films,aims to bring about a dialogue about the struggles faced with individuals struggling with their mental health and more importantly, modern society’s lack of understanding and social support. In this interview, he talks about his new project titled ‘Manifestation’ and the importance of having a strong social structure, amongst other topics.
Could you tell us a bit about your new project titled ‘Manifestation’?
Our new arthouse short film MANIFESTATION. Is about a mentally ill person who takes revenge on society because he feels neglected by his family, friends and basically the social system and the community around him. He was mentally abused as a kid and an adult by a psychopath father. The film draws lines to the environmental issues of the present and to the white supremacy that created the capitalist society that we live in today.Its a tale of a social-outcast who suffers weltschmerz and lives a life in loneliness, alienation and isolation in a society that is emotional desolated. During the 17 minute duration of the film, the viewer experiences the nihilistic view on the world from the social outcast point of view.
For all its ubiquity, why do you think mental health is still stigmatized in the public eye?
The stigmata I think is cursed by media, like films, books and tv. Mostly when the media portray mentally ill persons, they are pictured as violent criminals, serial killers. And that is far from correct. Most mentally ill individuals suffer substantial mental and emotional pain and are not dangerous. The media do not tell that story often enough. I made a film now with a violent mentally ill individual, but the violence in the film is used to tell the story of total hopelessness and is used to underline the pain and suffering of the mentally ill and to make a comment on society, regarding those issues. In the future, I will be touching the mentally ill universe again and again but without the violent part. I also think that the stigmata of the mentally ill are caused by prejudices, in the likes of the person is dangerous or a nutcase or unpredictable, maybe even as a person who has something wrong with his mind – is also less intelligent, and people don’t want to get troubled/bothered by interacting with such persons.
How can we change this stereotype?
More enlightenment of the mental issues in the media. That’s my guess. I hope my films will make people feel they are not alone with these issues and that other people are suffering too, in different degrees of pain and loneliness. Hopefully, my films will talk to people who themselves are sick, but also to family and friends, maybe even co-workers to show what the mentally ill person is going thru and perhaps also help understand where and how to support such a person. This also applies to the treatment system, the doctors and nurses. But also show where you as a family member or friend can do the best to help your friend. Maybe more focus on the brilliant artists who are mentally ill or other geniuses, like the mathematician of the Ron Howard film A Beautiful Mind. The guy suffers great pains, but at the end wins the Nobel prize. Maybe more focus on the complexity of human minds. I think that for sure will lift the recognition of mental illness, as usable for the society. For example, let mentally ill individuals work nightshifts if that works for them. I have heard stories about that! It might work for some and not all. I think many mentally ill individuals have a lot to offer, but people and the community have to discover it first!
For all the fantastic opportunities it provides, do you think the internet and social media have played a detrimental role with regards to depression and anxiety?
The internet has given me a lot of opportunities, to be social and to present my art to the whole world. Being a disabled person who can not easily travel across the globe, meeting people in the art-world, but also experiencing art. In that way, the internet changed my life. I have access to everything I need from my apartment in my little hometown, like buying DVDs, Blu-ray films, music, books, all kinds of culture and art, from the whole world, and meeting good people to talk to on top of that. In the past, my friends left our town to study and live in the cities. It was something I would have also done if I did not have my problems, disability, depression and mental health issues. Around ten years ago, when I got the internet installed in my apartment and started uploading my video work online, pretty quickly, I was being invited to be in international art collaborations and group shows. I have grown as a person with the internet. But I also know that it does not work as a gift for all people, it helps them to feel more alienated, lonely and isolated. And I understand if you are depressed and lonely without many friends, watching people having fun and doing a lot of exciting stuff on social media, that, that will make you feel more isolated and depressed. I do understand that having connections on social media is not the same as meeting with people in real life. So with that in mind, the internet would be detrimental for some people. – For me, it has changed my life and given me a lot of opportunities I would not have in my little hometown.
How important is having a strong social support structure for you?
It means everything, primarily becauseof my disability; there is a lot of things I
can not do myself. It’s good to have good friends I can rely on. Also, when it comes to my art and filmmaking. I have 100%support so far for everything I want to do. On that behalf, I have a few people I rely on, and it is incredible the degree of support I get. Especially from my friend and long-time collaborator Steffen Graumann, who is the backbone of my films, webpage and everything graphical. Actor Marek Magierecki also a long-time collaborator who starred in my art-videos and the upcoming arthouse short film MANIFESTATION. So having that support means everything for me! Especially because I did not always have that kind of support when I started, I had some challenging years getting my art made, again because I’m handicapped I’m not able to do everything on a film myself, for instance operating the camera!
How vital has art been in your journey through the obstacles of mental health?
When I started making art, videos and shortfilms, I was in a low point of my life regarding my mental health, disability and social situation. I was on welfare and did not have much money. But I started to make arthouse short films, experimental films and later video-art – All with an expressionist style and minimalist approach. Those works I began to make 20 years ago and up to today have been used as therapy. As a way to release my pain, cry out my loneliness and isolation. And it has two effects.. one is projecting your problems over on the art – and get a kind of release of your pains. The other impact is, the acceptance I have received from the viewers of my artwork online. So the internet and my artworks helped me through it all and changed my life over to something better and gave me purpose. But it doesn’t mean everything is great; I sometimes have to fight myself thru a whole day here and there and probably will for the rest of my life.
What is Danny listening to at the moment?
Mostly a lot of radio, one of Danish Radio stations called DR P6 Beat. An alternative channel with all kind of good music for the music nerd and with a lot of information about music history, newcomers and live music. They play a lot of music from the Danish underground scene, and I like to follow that channel. When I drive in my car, I listen mostly to Nancy Sinatra & Lee Hazelwood. Louis Armstrong, The Doors, Bob Marley, Andy Williams, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin etc. Sometimes I can have different moods and listen to hardcore HipHop like Public Enemy. NWA, Sugarhill Gang. Grandmaster Flash, the Beastie Boys and Rage Against the Machine. Sometimes a little death metal and trash like Sepultura, Slayer and Pantera. My favourite bands since I was a teenager is Primus, Faith No More and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. The last three bands influence me a lot as a bass player.