janet grau

Staggering Mind

staggering Mind

Video, 2022

In early 2022, I discovered that the Prinzhorn Collection in Heidelberg had a fascinating new acquisition, an object donated to the collection by its maker, Annegret Schrempf. It is a large, wearable crocheted net. Ms. Schrempf calls the net her ‘shelter,’ and I wondered about the process of making such a thing, as well as what it would be like to move in such an object. I also wondered what it would be like to need such a thing, and how such a strange, sock-like net could provide a sense of security.

Ms. Schrempf allowed me to borrow her net to create this video, staggering Mind, which is named after Emily Dickinson’s poem number 859. The poem is a brilliant analysis of what we think we know, revealing an uncertainty at the heart of knowing:

A doubt if it be Us
Assists the staggering Mind
In an extremer Anguish
Until it footing find.

An Unreality is lent,
A merciful Mirage
That makes the living possible
While it suspends the lives.

– Emily Dickinson, ca. 1864

I decided to imagine the net as a path to stability and security, rather than the self-deception that Dickinson’s poem suggests is necessary to overcome the anguish of uncertainty and live a stable life.

Concept: Janet Grau
Performance: Claudia Schmitz-Esser
Camera: Ferhat Neptun
Editing: Janet Grau and Claudia Schmitz-Esser
Music: Ali Moraly, Songline (for Gordon Hookey)
Many thanks to Annegret Schrempf, who let us use the net she originally created for herself, and to the Prinzhorn Collection  in Heidelberg, who lent it to us to create this video.
Staggering Mind
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