Or should I call it exorcism?
The word ‘exorcism’ certainly feels more appropriate to the chronic pelvic pain hell I’ve been experiencing since March 2007. Sadly I’ve not been able to rid this pain… yet! But I am making progress and I do partially attribute the relief to my returned ability to create again.
Increasingly I am finding great catharsis in the varying avenues I am using to express my anguish of living with daily pain and such a disabling injury. The avenues began with drawing, and with the returned capacity then came painting, the book, and now collage. Collage seems to be the medium that satisfies me the most with every part of the process feeling like I’m handling my pain. It feels like I’m tearing it up and in particular the knotted string is representing the frustration and knot I feel inside my pelvis.
What I also love about the body of works relating to ‘chronic pain’, is that I don’t have any plans for the work. There isn’t an upcoming exhibition deadline, nor are these works commissions. It’s not until recently that I’ve glanced around the studio to find there is a broader story unfolding, there are several layers to chronic pain. Although I have lived this story, I am yet to understand the full impact and see chronic pain’s reality, and I say that because I’ve been completely focused on finding a diagnosis and treatment for most of the 7 years. I don’t know what other communication avenues will surface so there’s a huge excitement for what will be discovered and what more will be revealed. It feels like I’ve been so busy trying to survive this mammoth issue, I’ve not had a chance to really think about the whole journey until now that the larger part of the numbing fatigue and incapacity has passed. I can now create these pieces without the roar of pain consuming my whole head space.
What also differs is the subject. Previous works have documented people, places, objects in my life that I either studied or love; a Parisian building, portraits of Theo or my friend Lynn, etc. This body of work is a documentation of me, of my personal life experience and not a particularly good one, something I’m certainly not used to documenting as I usually document happiness. So it was difficult to find a way to communicate this horrid pain issue and not only because it’s an unhappy reality but it is completely invisible to most.
The references I include to Frida Kahlo show the obvious pain affiliation but more so, Frida’s presence provides added substance and weight to the subject matter. I also want to express an identity that keeps popping up of me feeling like a sort of modern-day Frida, and by that I mean our approaches and treatments to the pain issue are so different. Hers – operation after operation, mine – a battery operated device implanted to deter signals to my brain (amongst nerve blocks, cortisone injections, mild medication, acupuncture, physiotherapy etc). As I work, I often wonder how different her life may have been if she had access to current day treatments.