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About The Besiegement (Advocating Mental Health) Video Installation Art Project

The Besiegement project was devised and designed by Peter Mutanda; the video installation project is aimed at raising awareness about mental health issues affecting people in Zimbabwe. It is a fusion of artefacts and short films that are a representation of existing mental illnesses. The project features two 10-minute video screenings. The scenery of the video installation is a forest set up in representation of the segregation which the mental health patients go through in Zimbabwe. The trees in the forest are leafless seemingly lifeless but in reality its portrayal of revival and rejuvenation which signifies the beginning of a new life. At the center of the installation is the big human head in symbolic of the person suffering from the mental illness. The head is wrapped in a hooded jacket illustrating the besiegement ever tormenting the victim keeping them in seclusion. We hear loud voices, forest ambient sound and different harrowing sound effects portraying someone lost in the world of their own. The dysfunctional old gadgets like an old radio, telephone, computer hard-drive and television placed haphazardly within the exhibition are a juxtaposition of the human mental faculty which has deteriorated from mental health challenges. The videos screened within The Besiegement are abstract films showing different age groups of people in a severe depressive state and the other film depicting the causes and symptoms of mental health.
Many people in Zimbabwe have different assumptions mainly based on cultural or religious beliefs due to lack of knowledge about mental health.
In response to that challenge, the researcher and his team shall exhibit ‘The Besiegement’ in different venues i.e. galleries, community centres, government, academic and psychiatric institutions with the aim of raising awareness about mental health. The targeted communities shall be health professionals, government officials, people living with mental health illnesses and the general Zimbabwean populous at large shall. They shall access and experience the phenomena of the new media art exhibition.
The main objective of the exhibition outreach is to gather data through in-depth interviews, questionnaires, observation of audience reaction and recorded video footages. Then the researcher shall critically analyse the project’s efficiency from the collected data.

On 8 March 2019, the project was launched at the First Floor Art gallery, Karigamombe centre in Harare. (https://www.newsday.co.zw/2019/03/uz-embraces-new-art-form/). The exhibition was well attended and already a sign of its worthiness was witnessed when one of the audience members suspected being mentally and emotionally unwell after watching the exhibition. The Besiegement was then exhibited at the University of Zimbabwe Theatre Arts Department’ Arts week on 17 April 2019. The reception from the audience was absolutely sensational; towards the end of the exhibition, Dr. Madhombiro from the University Of Zimbabwe College Of Health Sciences delivered the closing remarks. As it had happened at the First Floor Gallery, we had another audience member approaching me and Dr. Madhombiro about how the project had made her realize that she might not be well. “This was time well spent and from my ‘face value’ adjudication, the project is perfect especially in evoking feelings and emotions…” said Dr. Madhombiro
Our next stop was at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) where we successfully exhibited from 23 – 27 April 2019. We recorded more than 200 appreciative and participating audiences, 2 cabinet ministers and other dignitaries.
It is apparent that The Besiegement is increasingly getting an excitingly exposure and attention perhaps due to its distinctiveness. This momentous opportune publicity is crucial and advantageous to the success of this study.

  • Peter Mutanda
  • Peter Mutanda
  • Peter Mutanda
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    11 minutes 55 seconds
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Director Biography - Peter Mutanda

Peter Mutanda is a Zimbabwean artist who has directed and produced award-winning Documentary films and Theatre Productions. He has also designed an award-winning video installation project, ‘The Besiegement – Advocating Mental Health’ which was launched in Harare on 8 March 2019. (https://www.newsday.co.zw/2019/03/uz-embraces-new-art-form/)

In 2003, Peter was invited by a South Africa based producer, Bridget Pickering to be part of the production crew for Terry George’s Oscars awards nominated (35mm Lions Gate) Hollywood blockbuster movie ‘Hotel Rwanda’ in Johannesburg, SA.

On top of all that, Mutanda is an Educator, Video Journalist, Theatre Workshop Facilitator, Poet, Script Writer, Cultural Activist, Traditional drum player, Multi-lingual and familiar with many cultures. He has lived and worked in South Africa, Mozambique, Botswana, USA, UK, Germany, Switzerland and Finland. Furthermore, Mutanda has held arts workshops and collaborations in Africa, Europe and USA. He has directed and produced award winning and nominated theatre pieces, film productions and visual arts projects.

Peter Mutanda graduated with

● MA in Theatre and Global Development from the University of Leeds, UK,
● BA Hons in Film and Moving Image Production from Leeds Metropolitan University (Leeds Beckett University), UK,
● Diploma in Media, a National Certificate in Performing Arts and a level 2 Key Skills in Information and Communication Technology from Leeds Thomas Danby College (Leeds City College), UK.
● Certificate for participating in Induction & Foundation Methods of Teaching in Higher Education Workshop Awarded with University of Zimbabwe.

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