Traces/Absence is an ongoing series investigating the residual effects that trauma has on the body. Through different methods of self-portraiture, I explore the afterness of trauma, with the intention of visually translating the effects trauma has on the body and self and the disruption it causes to temporality.
The images in Traces/Absence involve both physical and non-physical traces left by trauma. Physical traces manifest themselves on my body through posture or impressions and appear as indentations, changes or attenuation of the environment. Other images depict an in-betweenness invigorated by my form hovering or floating on land or in water, which alludes to the non-linear nature of trauma’s effects and parallels the suspension of my physical form. In other images, my figure poses as a column while both self and environment remain stagnant. This staticness contradicts the suspension in other images, contrasting the push and pull of trauma’s afterness. While many of the images neglect to show my face, this strategy is not disempowerment but rather a tool to claim agency, by denying the viewers access and limiting their understanding of myself and my experiences. With the semblance of any intimacy, I still command control over who has access to what parts of me. This strategy directly conflicts with occurrences and effects of past traumas, with the intent of regaining a sense of being.
Inspiration for the series was found in I Am Not My Body, This Is Not My Body by Yochai Ataria and Trauma and Temporality by Robert D. Stolorow, which were resources that deepened my understanding of trauma’s impact on the body and linearity. Further inspiration on trauma’s traces, representations of nonlinearity, and memory came from works by artists Ana Mendieta, Nassima Rothacker and Katrin Koenning, respectively.