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22 · 09 · 2021

Danish Cultural Center in Beijing is focusing on anxiety and depression with new exhibition

In autumn 2021, the Danish Cultural Center will focus its attention on mental health. Through the BLACK DOG project, the Cultural Center invites its Chinese audience to exhibitions, conversations and activities that convey taboo topics, namely mental vulnerability, mental well-being, and health.


A black dog has been used as an image of depression for several years. The feeling of having a being that always haunts you – wherever you go. A creature that demands your attention and absorbs your focus and energy. A creature that, if not retained, takes power.


This metaphor is the focal point of the BLACK DOG project, which investigates the phenomena of depression and anxiety.


The World Health Organization predicts that in 2030 mental health conditions will be the biggest public health threat in the world. Already today, depression is a widespread condition. One in ten is, has been or will be affected. Taboo is a known companion when mental ailment strikes. The Danish Cultural Center in Beijing will confront this taboo with the project BLACK DOG.


The Cultural Center will invite people who have been affected by mental health conditions and their relatives to share their experiences and thoughts. What are the symptoms of depression and anxiety? How does it feel? How do they appear physically? Can taste and smell completely disappear? Do the colours of the surroundings decrease so that everything ends up being experienced in grey- or blackish colours? What’s it like to see a person you love disappear into a dark state of mind?


BLACK DOG will be conveyed using a large exhibition installation, where accounts from Danish relatives are brought into perspective by Chinese people with severe depression. Throughout the exhibition period (from the second half of September and through October), the exhibition is supplemented by conversations, therapy performances and panel discussions at the Danish Cultural Center in Beijing.


“When we started to reveal our intentions in the local network, artists diagnosed with anxiety or depression approached us with a desire to participate in the project about Black Dog,” says Director of the Center Eric Messerschmidt, and continues, “so here we could already feel, we were onto something about the importance of breaking the the stigma, that surrounds mental vulnerability”.


BLACK DOG is part of the project series “I’m Perfect”, which challenges the common perception of what is “normal” and “perfect” across China and Denmark. Among other topics, the project series focuses on life with physical, developmental, or psychological challenges. The next theme will have a focus on autism. You can read more about the project series here.


Illustration: WANG Yifang