This weekend, I would have attended Creating Space 10 in Vancouver, a conference dedicated to the medical humanities. It was, of course, cancelled because of the global pandemic. I was looking forward to presenting my talk titled “Navigating Chronic Illness in Everyday Life”. Instead, I’m posting my abstract below to mark the missed occasion.
I am a printmaker who uses my experiences with chronic illness as a catalyst for exploring issues relating to sickness and identity in my artwork. My body is the site of a sort of slow disaster, an evolving and unnerving landscape of misbehaving systems. It is necessary, of course, that I enter medical centers for exams, treatment, and tests to decipher those systems. But when I leave those territories, my body still requires treatment and can transform everyday spaces into medical spaces. I am interested in exploring these transitional sites in my prints, as well as the places where these identities overlap. These moments of suspended time form a significant part of the experience of illness.
The liminal state of waiting is strongly connected to these transitions between everyday and medical spaces. This state of not-knowing can be stressful and strange, where worst-case scenarios are explored and weighed against the possibility that it might be nothing. Time becomes odd, it can speed up or drag on, and the internal dialogue can make you feel as though you exist in a different plane or a suspended reality. In my prints, bodies drift and disappear into their surroundings, slip between both sides of the paper, collapse and expand, physically enacting the mental state of waiting.