The Empathy Clinic 2019, introduced by Jill Bennett

Unless we can imaginatively ‘step into someone else’s shoes’ we cannot empathise. But the empathy problem goes deeper. Neuroscientific evidence suggests that we direct empathy to people we perceive to be ‘like us’. Some of us make a conscious effort to overcome bias and stigma – but are we really comfortable with difference and diversity? Can we deal with another’s distress, or even listen effectively?

The Empathy Clinic brought together leading national and international artists investigating their own and others’ experiences of anxiety, mental health, stigma, and oppressive circumstances. It included newly commissioned immersive artworks, presenting first-person, embodied perspectives of challenging lived experience, uniquely designed to challenge assumptions about what art does, and how perspective sharing really affects us.
Rather than merely showing this work, The Empathy Clinic asked how we might be radically changed by it: What are the effects (positive or negative) of engaging closely with another’s personal experience? Can we equip people with the tools and insights to become more empathetic? Can we literally defeat stigma with art?