Who Wants to be a Mental Health Millionaire?, single channel video, 11:39, 2018.
Performed, directed, written, edited: Kayla Witt
Barbara Wires: James Knott
Phone a Friend: Maddie Alexander
Camera/lighting: Michael Mandarano
Swing grip: Miles Sharp
This work was made for the exhibition "Mental Health," White House Studio Project, Kensington Market, Toronto, Ontario. July 2018. Curated by Lauren Fournier.
Excerpt from Mental Health exhibition text, written by curator Lauren Fournier:
"Through queer performativity and play, Witt transmutes the nostalgia of late 1990s-early 2000s popular culture into something meaningfully queer, using the conceit of Who Wants To Be A Mental Health Millionaire to think through serious questions that pertain to mental health in the context of queer, feminist, twenty-first century life. On this game show, in order to answer correctly you must answer truthfully; thus, to be “successful” as the winner—the “mental health millionaire”—you must be honest with yourself about your own strengths and limitations. With it’s profoundly truthful self-awareness, Who Wants To Be A Mental Health Millionaire gets at thorny issues related to mental health in intersectional spaces, including this statement, listed as an answer to the question “What are the hardest pills to swallow?”: “Mental illness and past traumas are not valid excuses to avoid accountability for perpetuating toxic, manipulative, or abusive behaviours.” Witt’s work shows an awareness both of herself and of the context she is living within: a structurally inequitable, neoliberal, capitalistic context where University graduates struggle through precarious underemployment and pharmaceutical companies continue to make millions off of people’s pain. This video, which marks the beginning of an exciting video practice for Witt, holds space for the various tensions between self-care, consumerism, sex, queerness, social media, friendship, and precarity that characterize life in the late 2010s."