Avery Steel


"The passage from trauma might be understood as the move into the narrativity that institutes time, the pause in which memory forms, hence spatialize. Or perhaps, we should speak of a passage into the temporality of narrative that encases but also mutes trauma's perpetually haunting force by means of a structuration that is delivered by representation ... For the patient, who expresses anxiety after the event, is speaking of a time when nothing was thinkable: then the body and the world were confounded in one chaotic intimacy which was too present, too immediate - one continuous expanse of proximity or unbearable plenitude. What was lacking was lack, an empty 'space' somewhere"
-Griselda Pollock, Art/Trauma/Representation. Parallax 15.1 (2009):40-54.

          When drawing on the experience of trauma, how does one begin to shape such an inexplicable experience into something that is tangible in its authenticity? This concept has been explored numerous times through methods of literature, as well as artistic practice, and it's fair to say that it cannot be done. When speaking about the emotionally and physically taxing experience of trauma, the pain of the victim is nothing short of authentic, but where we begin to see dynamic shifts in the perception and distribution of ideas surrounding trauma is through the making of art that confronts the representations of these difficult, unfathomable stories. This project, "I Speak Because I Can," is an evocative representation of an autobiographical narrative about how the artist's experience and memory of sexual assault manifests itself as a perpetual presence that is embedded on the identity of the victim. This photographic series embodies a strange relay from trauma to memory, manufacturing both notions of distance and intimacy through an undigested thingness of a traumatic presence. In the artist's personal narrative, she returns to the place in which the memory of the event previously happened and manifests a ghostly delineation of her experience through the creation of ambiguous, performative, and sculptural images. The artist interacts with this memory by allowing the physical environment to consumer her form by inserting her body into the land, bringing pieces of the environment into domestic spaces, and by leaving signifiers of her presence behind in each image. The artists is representing an idea that once a traumatic event such as sexual assault takes place, there is an irreversible transition that begins where the body and the world are intertwined in a chaotic intimacy that will forevermore shape not only the perception of that place but also the perception of day-to-day like for that individual. Free from description, the images in their surrealism not only draw the viewer in, but in turn, hold an overwhelming feeling of tension and discomfort for the viewer. The visual aspect of surrealism opens up space of genuine wonderment about the conceptual role of art to discuss issues of sexual trauma. This comes with the replacement of a foreclosed certainty about what we are looking at to a fresh openness of exploration and interpretation. Autobiography as a conceptual framework enables audiences to understand that while emanating from experience, the personal is the political.