Artist tells story of grandmother’s time in CIA mind-control experiment in new exhibit

CBC News
By Jamie-Lee McKenzie
November 9, 2018

“Wearing a costume that looks like a young man wearing a doctor’s jacket in the 1950s, Sarah Anne Johnson dances slowly with a life-size doll wearing a hospital gown that’s fallen open at the back.

It’s an art installation and performance piece called The Cave, part of an exhibition at the Julie Saul Gallery in New York.

The doll represents Johnson’s maternal grandmother, Velma Orlikow, the wife of former Winnipeg North MP David Orlikow.

“I wanted people to feel empathy for her,” the Winnipeg artist said.

In the 1950s, Orlikow sought treatment for postpartum depression at Allan Memorial Institute in Montreal and unknowingly became a subject in the mind-control experiments of a CIA-funded American doctor.

Patients were subjected to a series of mind-control experiments, including shock and drug therapies and induced prolonged sleep.”

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Everything is Connected: Art and Conspiracy

The Brooklyn Rail
By Hovey Brock
November 1, 2018

“In his essay “The Paranoid Style in American Politics,” the historian Richard Hofstader labeled entire groups as pathological based on their inclinations to see events through the lens of conspiracy. While his essay has influenced political discourse ever since, Hofstader was wrong about conspiracy thinking as aberrant. To the contrary, it belongs to the quintessential human drive for pattern recognition. Think of it as the conceptual equivalent of pareidolia: the tendency to see patterns where none exist, such as the face of Jesus on a piece of toast. What’s more, actual conspiracies do happen, the Russian hackings of the 2016 election as a recent example. The eighty-three works in Everything is Connected, evidently the first museum show to tackle the topic, look at both sides of conspiracies, real and imagined, from the Vietnam era to the George W. Bush years. Most of the art functions as anti-entertainment, prodding us to wake up and see what’s actually around us. Some—particularly Jim Shaw’s—satirize conspiracy mainstays such as the Kennedy assassination. The most disturbing pieces address conspiracies by authorities who, to realize their agendas, brainwashed their charges.”

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From assassinations to CIA mind control: new show investigates how artists tackle conspiracy theories

The Art Newspaper
By Victoria Stapley-Brown
September 14, 2018

“When you don’t have all the information, you’re left to fill in the blanks, and so people come up with these crazy theories,” says Doug Eklund, the co-curator of possibly the first ever exhibition to tackle art and conspiracy theories. “The way that I look at the subject of conspiracy is, it’s about aspects of history that are hidden,” Eklund says. “I think of it as almost a political occult.”

Everything Is Connected: Art and Conspiracy at the Met Breuer includes around 70 works by 30 artists, made between 1969 and 2016 (up to, but not including, the last presidential election), looking at covert power and the ways governments and citizens interact.”

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