One in four people will be affected by either a neurological or mental disorder at some point in their lives. With such a great number of people suffering, it’s surprising to see the persistent of the social stigma which looks down upon those who reach out for help and try to get better.
Going against the stigma, young activist and artist Esa Luoto has worked to bring light to various disorders through creative, artistic, expression. This work has presented itself through the creation of “Sloughs”, a series depicting various causes of mental health issues; the content in this series ranges across a number of topics, from being isolated socially to the presence of happiness in one’s life.
Luoto is actually a Finnish photographer, expressing issues known to many. What lies on the surface of our appearance rarely covers the depths of who we are, and Luoto has chosen to delve beyond superficial matters to illuminate what matters for those with backgrounds in mental health issues, substance abuse, and even trauma; this work in itself serves to fight the deeply-ingrained societal notion that vulnerability is shameful. Luoto has recuperated from mental illness, and lives by example. The propensity of people with mental illness is often tied to the number of psychiatrists and psychologist in a country, but each and every person can live by example to change today’s norms. For some this means meshing together artwork and activism.
“This series is about the human in its surroundings. Against the contemporary collective ego-thinking, an individual is merely a tiny particle in all this life that surrounds us. Human being is some piece of work: we yearn away from the nature to ‘civilisation’, however one cannot escape loneliness even when there are thousands of people inhabiting a square mile. The fear of being alone and the empty expectations we assume guide many – the search is tense and the fever high, but nobody is certain what to look for, where to look for it, how to look for it and why. Everybody seeks happiness but why should one let its quality and quantity be dictated by strangers?
“There are no pockets in the last suit and after a hundred years nobody will remember.” -Esa Luoto