The surprising value of viewing traumatic experiences

By Shaoni Bhattacharya Trauma: Built to break, Science Gallery Dublin, Ireland, until 21 February 2016 I AM standing on a bustling street corner in Aleppo, Syria. At one side, a group of people chat; above, a young girl’s voice carries a song. Until a bang stops her melody dead. Smoke and chaos pour into the street – a barrel bomb has exploded metres away. Removing the virtual-reality goggles, the adrenaline continues to course even though I was only inside the Project Syria immersive for minutes. It was commissioned for the 2014 meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos to give an insight into life in Syria. And it works. It uses gaming technology and audio from a real bomb blast in Aleppo on 6 November 2012. This is just one of a number of strikingly diverse installations in the new exhibition Trauma: Built to break, at the Science Gallery at Trinity College Dublin, Ireland. This is no sensationalistic depiction of gore. It is a nuanced attempt to capture insights and lessons from trauma – and even some benefits of it – says Shaun O’Boyle, lead researcher at the Science Gallery. So where we could have peered voyeuristically, the show bravely dissects trauma, teasing out the visceral, the taboo, the hopeful and the inventive. It becomes beautiful, sad, disturbing, humorous… even fun. Take the memory-laundering booth. Write down a good and a bad memory from the previous week. Place the paper in a safe- deposit box, and retrieve later. The odd word may have been altered, changing the memory. This is a simple way to show cutting-edge research by Susumu Tonegawa’s lab at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in which mouse memories were revised, recoded and replayed. “Our brains change memories all the time; they are not reliable at all,” says Jessica Stanley, a Science Gallery researcher. This malleability means memories that cause post-traumatic stress disorder may be treatable. Nearby is Your Beautiful Self by artist Naama Schendar, who morphs through multiple people, from a Palestinian mother with a sick child to a London fireman. She lip-syncs to their real narratives, wearing such bizarre make-up and outfits that it negates stereotypes of gender, age and race in the stories. Confronting trauma can release us from some of its power, says the exhibition’s co-curator Daniel Glaser, a neuroscientist and director of the Science Gallery London, which opens next year. He says that seeing is far from passive, and when you try to avoid looking at something, you are drawn to it. “The not-seen has more power than the seen,” says Glaser. “Once you’ve looked at the trauma for a long time, you can start to get beyond it.” “Once you’ve looked at the trauma for a long time, you can start to get beyond it” This seems true of many of the installations. Take Scarred for Life, which features colourful prints of scarred body parts juxtaposed with photographs of their owners. Many are humorous, like the woman looking mock-askance at her own arm stump, painted red. Artist Ted Meyer wanted to focus on how we heal and survive after physical trauma. Of the 100 people he worked with, 99 reported being stronger after their trauma. The exhibition also explores societal trauma. A black-and-white photo of a desolate council estate in Northern Ireland takes on a different meaning once you read the work’s title: Silence, After a Kneecapping. In contrast are David Cotterrell’s visceral photographs taken in an army field hospital in 2007 in Afghanistan. In the most graphic, a gash runs the length of a soldier’s calf, and his foot is split open. All the patients he contacted wanted the photos displayed because they helped bridge gaps in their lives, he says: they could not describe why they were different after returning from war. The Science Gallery wants Trauma to start a conversation. This innovative and thoughtful show will do that and more by pressing emotional buttons while asking how we process trauma and emerge with something new. Such catharsis will be needed, with last month’s events in Paris and Mali showing how personal and collective trauma are never far away. (Image: Sightlines 1/’Supernumerary’ by David Cotterrell/TRUAMA: BUILT TO BREAK at Science Gallery at Trinity College Dublin) This article appeared in print under the headline “Broken but not destroyed” More on these topics:
  • 首页
  • 游艇租赁
  • 电话
  • 关于我们