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A Sanctuary in our Mind

A red see through material floating against a blue sky
  • Written byCat Cooper
  • Published date 23 February 2023
A red see through material floating against a blue sky
Still from A Sanctuary in Our Mind

A film, poem and collaborative idea, reminding us to have the courage to imagine a regenerated world

A collaborative film project by three UAL students and graduates explores perception and the role of the human imagination in the regeneration of our planet. ‘A Sanctuary in our Mind’ is an amalgamation of moving-image and poetry, by the artists Asako Ujita, Bella Howard and Lena Rissmann. Asako is a Chelsea College of Arts BA Fine Art alumna, Bella a Central Saint Martins BA Fine Art graduate and Lena a MA Innovation Management student at Central Saint Martins.

Based on Lena’s poem of the same name, A Sanctuary In Our Mind is a reflection on the collapse of our natural environment and social systems and the emergency to act, to let the world rest and heal without human damage and extraction.

The film premiered on Europe’s largest curved screen at the Samsung KX Innovation Hub in London in October 2022 as an opener at the launch of the research and design project, Becoming Regenerative. The project will feature in the next issue of The Posthumanist, with a public screening at the magazine’s launch on Monday 20 March.

We hope that the film serves as a reminder to keep up the courage of envisioning a future that all of us are passionate about bringing to life. Currently, we are conceptualising a new film that approaches the topic of regeneration from a new, fresh angle while still communicating the quest for change in a subtle, encouraging way.

— Lena, Asako and Bella

Watch the film

Meet the collaborators

Creators Lena, Asako and Bella talk about the idea that a healthy future world starts inside the imagination, from an inner wisdom that we all possess.

Lena Rissmann @lena_rxmn

“As the discourse around the future of our planet is mostly dominated by uncertainty, fear and pain, it becomes harder to still believe in a hopeful future. The aim of our film was to soothe this shared sense of discouragement and create a gentle reminder of hope.

My poem A Sanctuary in our Mind served as a starting point for our film – it weaves together reality and possibility through exploring the status quo as well as a future in which our world flourishes. The intention of the poem is to encourage the reader to sustain the inspiration and courage to envision a peaceful, healing and regenerated world – a sanctuary. It was important to all three of us to translate this subtle, yet ambitious quest for change into the visuals, sound design and atmosphere of the film.”

Asako Ujita @asako_ut

"I wanted to explore different types of perception and reconstruct the idea of nature.

In my editing processes, I mainly focused on creating narratives through abstract images.

Like the juxtaposition of footage such as the close-up of the eye of the horse, bio-organism, In this film, nature is seen through a non-human point of view, allowing us to reveal the intricate relation between human and living species. Likewise it guides us to see the world in a non-linear and multidimensional way.

Different from nature represented in beautiful panoramic landscapes, our film does not have an utopian thinking towards nature, but it really looks into possibilities of coexistence between human and non-human in the time of the environmental crisis."

"While discussing the filming process, we all recognised the importance of centralising both collaboration and the natural world, as the film could not speak truthfully of a regenerative future without full consideration of the world as it is now.

We were particularly drawn to this bright orange/red that would come to have a large role in the film, and with semiotics at play; it is perhaps an unsurprising yet relevant reference to both the climate emergency, as well as the drive we share toward developing something different- something better.

I feel that both the pace of the film and the sound-work reaffirm that there is still space within all of us to imagine a future that can be regenerative, encouraging us to individually and communally interact with the planet in a way that is gentle and full of purpose. If we keep these sanctuaries at the forefront of our minds while we go about our days, and each actively take steps towards being the change we wish to see, perhaps we can keep alive the dream for a brighter future, even when it feels as if we’re losing hope.”

Next screening

We are excited to welcome you to the next public screening of the film on Mon 20 March, 7pm, at The Posthumanist Issue 2 “Rhythms / Rhythmen” magazine launch.

Austrian Cultural Forum London, 28 Rutland Gate, London SW7 1PQ.

The 3 students presenting on a stage to an audience
Asako, Lena and Bella at the premiere of their film at Samsung Innovation Hub, Kings Cross, October 2022