benni and Emerson Sanderson
Dream Believe Achieve (2021)
Dream Believe Achieve (2021) is a year long collaboration between Emerson Sanderson & benni.
Dream Believe Achieve is a performative video work following Loretta and Denim Pussy’s journey through friendship, trans identity, drug use, and therapy. We wanted to create characters that were both unhinged but also okay, despite being institutionalized and pathologized by the mental health and addictions system. This work exaggerates and satirizes unhelpful self help, linear recovery narrative, and toxic positivity. Dream Believe Achieve shows Denim and Loretta’s hilarious failed attempts at seeking institutional help and seeking safety in community support instead.
The professionalization of therapy is put on a pedestal as an end- all cure to mental health, but in practice it is unhelpful and overpathologizing. If you’re trans and use drugs, your identity becomes pathologized as sick or crazy. The work exists both in real and digitally constructed spaces; referencing genres of reality tv, music videos, childhood nostalgia and pop culture. Denim and Loretta navigate this space that contains aspects of the “real world” while other aspects feel surreal and dysfunctional, mimicking our dissociative and sometimes manic states.
Creating these 2D digital environments has become about revisiting moments of trauma and reclaiming moments where we felt out of control, or that our control was taken away from us, giving it a safe “container” to exist in. Recreating moments of trauma and vulnerability unapologetically normalizes behaviours of survival as meaningful acts of resistance to structural oppression instead of stigmatizing them.