It’s been a while, but things have been moving fast for me in terms of work and research opportunities…almost a blur, as Drawing Women’s Cancer develops, amorphic beginnings of parallel international projects take more solid form, deadlines loom and the studio beckons. Life as a freelancer – an artist/researcher ‘visitor’ roaming the corridors and working with extraordinary people in and of various institutions is proving to be very accommodating. It nurtures my interdisciplinary being, and my independent soul, in a way that full time academia never did …but then, perhaps it was the particular academic positions that I held that were the problem, rather than the world itself.
Uppermost in my mind at the moment however is a major exhibition of my work that will be going up in November at The gate Arts centre in Cardiff. I am back in the studio where the smell of oil paint never fails to raise my spirits and inspire the academic in me to negotiate to more precarious, more recklessly intuitive route towards understanding. I will post more details later – maybe even gift the show a page of its own! – but for now here is a description of the show and a detail of one of the paintings.
Illness begins with ‘I’
To find oneself in Sontag’s Kingdom of the Sick is to experience the ‘abject’, the impossible object that remains still a part of the subject, and which Grosz tell us ‘signals the precarious grasp that the subject has over its identity and bodily boundaries’. To find oneself in the Kingdom of the Sick is to lose sight of oneself in the Kingdom of the Well, and to suffer in a world where the final abjection is to be found in Kristeva’s phenomenon of ‘death infecting life’. Medicine can define the abject. It can provide, sometimes, a passage back into the Kingdom of the Well. But as the person behind the diagnosis becomes a patient, individuality and the voice of suffering is often lost in the transformation.
This exhibition is about visualising the experience of illness through a creative act of witness. These are ‘portraits’ of the individual experience of levels of ‘dis-ease’ that can become so much a part of being itself that the discomfort is rarely contained within physical, mental or even spiritual boundaries. The experience can be chronic or acute, it can traverse a scale from devastation to mild irritation, but most importantly it is uniquely subjective, allied irrevocably to Self. This exhibition seeks to reinstate the voice of the individual caught between Kingdoms. Illness begins with ‘I’.