Confessions Press Release - July 14 2020

A safe space in which secrets can be shared in complete anonymity, a place to free guilt, cleanse the soul and unburden the mind – what would you confess?

That’s the question at the heart of an online global arts engagement project in response to concerns about the effect lockdown is having on mental health and wellbeing as the world copes with the on-going COVID-19 pandemic.

Created by Audacious, the producers of the annual Light Up Poole festival of digital light art, Confessions is a digital gallery of admissions by people from all over the world.

“We want participants to have a cultural digital art experience with us,” explains Audacious artistic director Libby Battaglia.

“Millions of people have struggled with lockdown and we want to create an opportunity for them to share secrets anonymously. There are no consequences for a confession, no judgement, no feedback and no chance of being identified. Putting emotional turmoil into words changes how we think about it and helps us come to terms with our behaviour.”

On arrival visitors encounter a 360-degree panoramic screen that they are able to investigate before choosing to submit a confession for review or continue exploring and return later. By clicking return they journey through a riot of psychedelic colours and sounds that resolves into the confessions gallery. There they can read what other people have admitted to.

Confessions has been designed and created by artist Ashley Wilkie who specialises in digital light installations, frequently outdoors.

“Confessions aims to modernise a traditional approach to mental health through a digital process of anonymous confession, using contemporary interactive media to support and guide visitors through the experience,” he says.

“We wanted to create an experience that has nothing to do with the imagery or expectation of religious confession and everything to do with addressing people’s mental health struggles.”

The project has been made possible with funding from Arts Council England’s COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund.

“This funding has been transformational in enabling us to work with artists during this time to create exciting new work and develop our skills,” says Libby. “With live events at a standstill this means we can interact with audiences as well as develop our skills and knowledge and challenge the artists to take their work in new directions.”

The project was inspired by What Do You Have Faith In?, a firelight installation by artist duo And Now: at this year’s Light Up Poole festival in February. As part of the piece hundreds of visitors wrote their hopes on luggage labels and tied them to the altar rail inside St James’s Church.

“There is extraordinarily strong evidence that writing about upsetting experiences or dark secrets can benefit our mental and physical well-being,” adds Libby. “Expressive writing encourages us to explore our deepest thoughts and feelings, but for such emotional purges to work, we must be completely honest with ourselves.

“We thought this would be a good way for people to release any guilt they might feel, but also it is such a wonderful way to learn more about our fellow human beings and realise that none of us are alone.”

What secret would you share?

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