The short essay below titled 'of things unseen' marks the first concrete writings (in the beginning of 2011) of the concept for my current work. It evolved from my interest in the intricate relationship between psyche and soma, mind and body; and the effects or consequences of external influences. On the other hand, the manner and processes by which the artworks physically manifest, has been a 10 year long exploration and experiment of material and form.
From 'of things unseen'(2011) by Farieda Nazier
Writings on the ontological problem of mind-body dualism can be traced back as far as Plato, Aristotle and Aquinas. A major contribution in the study of ‘forms’ can be attributed to Descartes, a philosopher, physiologist, and mathematician; who in the 1600’s discovered the reflex theory. This discovery in combination with the aforementioned precursors, laid the foundations of Cartesian Dualism; which speaks of the mind as an independent entity to the physical body. Descartes argued that the brain was merely the organ of the mind and that these distinctive ‘materials’ interacted. However, even though these two entities were considered separate they related through causality - body affecting mind and the mind affecting body. Subsequently, many other philosophical psychological and oppositional theories developed. Psychoanalysis, for instance, predominantly referenced bodily experiences in a number of its concepts. In the contemporary novel ‘Something to tell you’, Hanif Kureishi quotes Proust within the context of a psychoanalysts’ reflection on his sessions: “Every hour of the past is inscribed on the human body, indeed makes up the body (Kureishi, 2008:147).
My current work evolved from my two previous exhibitions which explore a planar shape and its transformation into form (a body). The preliminary examples presented mainly ‘virgin’ or ‘unscathed’ forms and the endless physical possibilities of unaltered basic geometric shapes. Later on in the work, the shapes were symmetrically incised on major intersections and angles. By assigning symbolism to these geometric shapes, the process of manufacture evoked and gave rise to new metaphors and narratives. This methodology and approach provided the groundwork for my present concept.
Within the South African context as with many other analogous contexts, personal histories are undeniably engrained with discrimination and its consequent wounding in one form or another. The premise for the exhibition is rooted in the broader investigation of South Africa’s oppressive socio-political history and its traumatic effects on the lives of the individuals exposed to it. The project aims to contribute to this discourse by attempting catharsis: visually unravelling, unpacking and tackling the process of wounding and its aftermath.
“While there was therapeutic value in the cathartic release of emotions ...this notion of ‘catharsis’, crudely involves an oral purging of a sick body riddled with traumatic ‘secrets’, which can enable victims to ‘master the past’”.
(Field, 2007: 5)