aggregates. 2018

Artist Statement

Aggregates reveals the unfolding story of illness and how one’s ageing body, under the medical gaze, is left unseen and unrecognized as sentient. Four works - two sculptural pieces laid out in the center of the gallery and two wall pieces - wait to be experienced by the viewer. Processes of layering, interlacing, and repetition are applied in varying degrees to achieve complexity and create cohesion and tension. Multiple forms of presentation provide context to each piece. Lighting, for instance, was used as an aesthetic and signifying tool to alter the presence and mood of immersive environments.

Through installation strategies, I explored how bodies were left feeling objectified and emotionally muzzled by the therapeutic gaze and how emotional bodies left untended, uncared for, became “spectacles of illness” (Didi-Huberman 1982) instead of empowered singularities.

This process was largely coloured by readings encountered while researching matters of embodiment through themes of trauma, illness and grief. My own disease-altered body brought on my searches for novel visual strategies. Works, mostly composed of organic matter and set against medical paraphernalia, were created to recall traumas aggregating and overwhelming feelings of disembodiment.

Preoccupied by my latest ordeals with the medical system and recent readings on the anticipatory corpse and medical ethics, and carrying my burdened shell of a body back into the studio, I started instinctively playing with collected matter around me. Organic fragments, from previous experimentation left unattended on the floor suddenly regained importance through the lens of projection. I started revisiting my own vernacular. As a looked closer, I discovered, hidden in creases, living moss, and tiny mushrooms growing from decay. I felt transformed. Feelings of disembodiment generated by recent events were slowly being obliterated by these subtle yet empowering growths. I was compelled to look attentively.#Concurrently, I began seeking objects that would represent the harshness of medical intervention (hence the coffin trolley suggesting hospital or morgue gurneys) opposing the holistic quality of the body.

 

In this installation, I decided to challenge the normalcy narrative, which celebrates the healthy male body as the social standard, by presenting solely female-subject-objects engaging with old age and/or illness. 

Leder’s accounts of the interoceptive nature of the body (Leder 1990) and its predisposition to reveal itself through pain, provided means of visibility for an otherwise recessive body. Compared to the social body, which tends to conceal dysfunction, the biological body brings faulty viscera to attention in a sense of urgency that requires attention in order to survive. By exhibiting entrails, I redirected attention to “corporeal depths” (1990) and steer away from the surface usually invested by representation. I applied visual metaphors and metalepsis to realign displaced identities onto the perceptual axis. Defective bodies put forward in this work, not only mirror the anguish brought on by isolation and rejection, but also become generative and revealing entities.