Over two months while without work and in self-isolation, Moreno took the first Covid-19 lockdown as an opportunity to consider: What might a visual language of mental disorder look like?
With a history of depression, addiction, disordered eating, and body dysmorphia, Moreno – like many others – found lockdown a difficult time, experiencing a relapse of mental health struggles. PANDEMANIAC was an attempt both to document that experience and to
provide Moreno with a process of art-as-therapy.
While the scenarios shown in the photographs relate directly to the artist’s lived experiences, all is filtered through a heightened and distorted lens. This relates to psychoanalytic ideas of the mask worn as a defence response to present threat, and behind which we can more safely act out our fears. Using a queer domestic toolkit including crafting, dressing up, casting spells and baking, the series privileges metaphor, texture, surface and symbolism as more effective strategies for communicating something about the internal world than representational realism.
By turns playful and unsettling, the series moves through motifs of the current crisis to consider the broader themes it raises: fear, desire, our relationship to food, superstition, anxiety, and the human need to connect.
Mitchell Moreno (they/them) grew up in Leicester,UK, and studied at Cambridge University and the Royal Academy of Music. They then worked for a decade in theatre as a performer and director, before shifting their practice to photography from 2017. Their work explores the construction of gender, the queer gaze, and the psychotherapeutic scope of the creative process. They support themselves by working as a builder and decorator, and this along with their working class politics crucially inform aspects of their work.
They were a selected solo artist for the Copenhagen Photo Festival 2020, but the physical exhibition was cancelled due to Covid-19. Their work has been shown at the National Portrait Gallery as part of the Taylor Wessing Prize, Portrait Salon at the Royal Photographic Society/PhotoNorth,and PhotoLA, and has been published by Photomonitor and the BJP. They were the winner of the Photofusion Select Award 2018.