The majority of my work has references to childhood and this relates to my interest in psychoanalytic thinking. I have personally undergone 8 years of intensive psychoanalysis, where I met my psychoanalyst 5 days per week. This often frightens people as they look at me in slight disbelief, wondering how I managed it. The idea of going 5 days per week frightened me too initially. It was offered to me on a low fee basis, but patients who were offered this had to commit to 5 days per week for a minimum of 2 years. Perhaps people’s initial thought is you have to be very seriously unwell to need such intensive therapy. To an extent yes, your motivation for going must be serious meaning there are elements of your internal and external life that are making you considerably unhappy and substantially limiting your potential and capabilities. On the other hand you need to have a degree of sturdiness and stability so that you can maintain this process. There is usually a point in time in therapy where you get closer to the really difficult aspects of your unconscious and this is a moment where many people switch off and want to end the work. I had these moments too. Moments of euphoria where I felt I got to a really happy and enlightened place and therefore thought it would be wise to stop therapy on this high note. My psychoanalyst was perceptive and recognised this. We were able to work through it and renew the work so we could continue on our journey. I am so happy that we didn’t end it prematurely because with each renewal there was so much more to discover. One of the things that you become acutely aware of is your vulnerability, and you make close contact to the child that never leaves you. This isn’t necessarily achieved by simply talking about your childhood all the time. More often than not you talk about your day to day observations, experiences and anything that spontaneously comes to mind. Childhood is weaved back into the present and you start to make connections. At first it seems a bit alien and difficult to grasp but the longer the therapeutic work goes on for the more it’s possible to internalise a deeper understanding. In fact rather than just understanding it’s about creating a psychic change. This takes time though.
In psychoanalysis you also learn that there isn’t one answer to anything, that everything has many aspects, ambiguities and paradoxes. And you learn to deal with this. It is the opposite of dogma. Accepting that things are complex, layered. Learning to look for the truth, learning to hear it, lying with it. There are silent sessions, where the patient and analyst don’t say a word for 50 mins. I have fallen asleep in sessions. You are in an underworld and seeing the pain of others, of yourself and how frightening it is to recognise the level of vulnerability we all face. Silences in psychoanalysis are as essential as words. In those silences you can be alone in the presence of another. For a patient, this is very valuable therapeutic work.
Due to the close contact I have had with my own vulnerability I have developed strong feelings about subject matters relating to childhood, the abuse of power and the psychic difficulties experienced by those struggling with challenging life circumstances. My journey to Utica came from this motivation. It became very unsettling that at the time of my trip to Utica the child migrant crisis on the Mexican US border was at its peak. I was on my way to research the Bosnian community in Utica who have now been settled there for over 20 years, and yet there was something so stark happening in this country that seemed so much more immediate and in need of attention. The sounds of children wailing and screaming as they were being separated from their mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters; we can only hear that for a short second before we recoil into a vacuum of not feeling.
The following works evolved in parallel to these political events alongside my research into the lives of those who have fled war and persecution. In an underworld, much like in psychoanalytic space, there is something that refuses to be forgotten. I’m interested in staying in this space, for as long as is required and I imagine my work will continue to do the same.
Insoluble Blossoms. 2018. Previously owned child swimsuits, glassware, iron, resin.
Murky Waters. 2018. Previously owned child swimsuits, glass light globes, shower frames, threaded rods, glassware, tablecloths.