For me, this project was about trust. This trust has allowed my work to discuss difficult topics around trauma and the self. I learned from our patient sessions that head and neck cancer was not something that you get past or a battle you can win; nor can you refer to yourself as a survivor. These people fight a never-ending battle. From the traumatic event of diagnosis and rupture of the continuum that defines one's whole self, through to the tests, scans, waiting rooms, radiation, chemotherapy, surgeries, reconstruction, physiotherapy, prosthetics, more waiting rooms, and, for some, the eventual return of cancer... there is no point past this possibility but only a field of illness states. These states are not neatly fitted in a binary of healthy or dead, but rather in a continual state of 'doing-illness': bodily discipline, support networks, constant engagement with health systems, and, for some, a new relation between themselves and illness—an integration, an acceptance. However, the way of being is dramatically unmoored. There were large lifestyle changes such as the inability to work and maintain relationships, but there were also more intimate changes such as in the way your body moves, and how one speaks, and eats. Throughout this state of 'doing illness', the traumatic event of diagnosis, treatment, and recovery remains and persists as a dizzying dislocation of the self in relation to one's own body. Rooted in the level of trust formed between project participants, these were the tough narratives that were shared by the patients and that I found my artwork was able to explore.
Final works below as exhibited in dc3 Art Project in January 2017.
Below is in-progress work for FLUX