Hashish Psychosis: What It’s Like To Be Mentally Ill and Recover

Stuart Ringholt


Book, 23.4 x 16.5 cm, 123 p, language: English, publisher: Victoria, Australia: Stuart Ringholt, ISBN: 0-646-45765-9.
Materials: ink, paper

Collection: Collection M HKA, Antwerp (Inv. no. B 2025/168).

Literary synopsis

In 1994 after finishing university disillusioned and working dead end jobs, Stuart Ringholt found himself in India experiencing cheap drugs and the hippie lifestyle. Bingeing on hashish he soon became grossly thought disordered and descended into psychosis and psychiatric hospitals. In honest and simple terms, Stuart reflects on his illness and subsequent ten year recovery process involving drawing, performance art and learning to socialize drug and alcohol free.

Relation of the novel to the artist’s practic

In 2006 Ringholt was invited to participate in the 2008 Biennale of Sydney by curator Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev after she had read Ringholt’s manuscript, Hashish Psychosis: What It’s Like to Be Mentally Ill and Recover (2006). The autobiography is an unnervingly honest account of Ringholt’s drug-fuelled descent into mental illness (he has now recovered). First shown in manuscript form for the exhibition NEW05 at the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne, the autobiography has, for some years, been used as an introduction to the artist’s work. It opens: ''One night, at the age of 23 I wanted to have sex with my mother''. The suggestion that developing a conceptual art practice was just part of a recovery programme is a recurrent one for Ringholt. What is more, early career performances perpetuate the idea that his practice is cathartic in nature. For example Conceptual Art Improved My Embarrassing Life (2003) involved the artist performing a series of embarrassing actions in public, such as standing in a busy square in Florence with toilet paper sticking out of his pants. Funny Fear Workshops (2004), initially held at Gertrude Contemporary Art Space, saw Ringholt invite visitors to participate in a workshop designed to rid them of their fear of embarrassment by living through the moment in a safe environment. However, to consider this entire practice as mere self-help would be too easy.

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