What is it like to have a grandmother who underwent CIA mind control experiments? For Sarah-Anne Johnson, a Canadian-based artist who has been making time-based work on this subject for the past ten years, it’s gaining a better understanding of the unpredictable mood swings and abrupt temper tantrums she grew up with.
In 1956, her grandmother, Velma Orlikow, checked into Montreal’s Allan Memorial Institute for postpartum depression. Orlikow was treated by renowned psychiatrist Doctor Ewen Cameron, whose controversial “de-patterning” treatment—prolonged, drug-induced sleep comas, followed by multiple doses of electroshock therapy—turned out to be a part of Project MKUltra.
Cameron’s experiments, alongside other institutions, were funded by the CIA to further “mind control” studies, which subjected unknowing patients to hallucinogenic drugs and other chemicals. Even though it took place in the 1950s and 60s, it wasn’t until 1977 that the US Senate investigated the program and even led a joint committee investigation. (Alas, most of the records were destroyed during the Nixon administration.)
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Image courtesy of Video still from ‘The Kitchen,’ 2016. Courtesy of Gallery 44 via Vice News