Initial artistic research has begun exploring female pain experiences, specifically endometriosis pain experiences, through zoom and in person one-on-one sessions. Research collaborators share their emotions, memories, sensations, thoughts and feelings surrounding their personal lived body experiences with pain associated with endometriosis or related female diseases. As an endometriosis sufferer myself, I am able to connect with and intimately relate to the women in our series of interactive dialogues. Each session begins with discussions where we verbally and nonverbally (for example using physical gestures, sounds, or body posturing) exchange our stories, memories, and any current pain sensations. Following each session or sometimes where possible, within the session, the collaborators are invited to either participate or provide constructive feedback in my artistic process (developed especially for pain expression as a way to non-verbally express and communicate pain experiences). For example, inspired by a story or memory of the collaborator or perhaps a personal memory they have triggered in our dialogue, I will then engage in art-making as a way to honour and interpret the pain. I will then share what I have been working on and the collaborators may attempt the artistic process or provide reflections/emotions/ideas that surface from engaging with my process/artistic outcomes.
Each series is an opportunity to interact both verbally and non-verbally as a way to unpack the lived body experiences of endometriosis. The short film below is a sample outcome of a session series with a collaborator. The film presents a blend of soundbites from our sessions in conjunction with post-session movement improvisations as a way to reflect on the dialogues and as a way to work through emerging research themes and ideas. One person uses words and the other uses their body in expressing, communicating, and working through pain; together the message is powerful as they share in each other's residual pain from endometriosis.
II. "Body Essays" (Still Imagery & Short Films)
In general, I use the "endo sessions" as direct inspiration and material for visual "body essays" or "empathetic meditations" as part of my creative process towards building a final artistic piece. In these, I film solo movement improvisations which incorporate movement and performance art. Using my artistic expertises I "try on" their feelings/descriptions/postures/stories/words using my own chronically ill and traumatised body. In this way, I am deeply exploring/listening to/empathising with the lived body experiences of other women who have endured chronic, cyclical pain. Additionally, I reflect on our sessions and my own body essays with creative writing and painting. Below are some still shots from the various body essays and a sample filmed body essay. The goal is to feel and share “her pain” through movement and performative improvisation. The "final" work will emerge naturally and somehow integrate what has been explored with other women.
III. Participant/Artist Responds to My Pain Stories
In some cases, the endometriosis sufferers are artists themselves. Our interactions are more of a hybrid format including not only my artistic interpretations, but also the collaborator's own artistic creations and processes. Our art-making and work are influenced by each other's artistic voice and dialogues. Sometimes, the artist collaborators will respond creatively as they "try on" my pain. In this example, the artist (who also is an endo warrior herself) responds to my written pain stories shared with her.