In my work, I look for ways to visualize and document degenerative mental and physical diseases such as Parkinson’s and Bi-Polar and transform them into portrayals of the diseases itself, their effects, and those they afflict. Both popular culture and my own corporal understanding (specifically an intimate relationship to Parkinson's disease and its effects) influence my interpretation and representation of these physical and mental breakdowns of the body.
I posit the question: How do we give identity to a disease that is difficult to diagnose or view on medical technology, currently cannot be cured or put in remission, and slowly changes the identity of the patient? We give identity to one track beings like viruses, saying we’re fighting a cold, as well as to diseases that are not a foreign body, but a part of the self, like cancer. While initially regarded as an other by the patient, many eventually come to terms with the fact that it is exactly the opposite: that a disease like cancer is a part of the self. Yet viruses and cancer are known entities, and while cancer is a disease of the self, it is one that has the possibility to be put in remission with proper treatment.
These illnesses in my work are represented as monsters that are both horrifying and beautiful; a fantastical, yet terrifying representation of the unseeable. The cultural perception and representation of the human body is fundamentally fictional in that it’s defined through external lenses such as those of medicine, cultural theory, ethics, religion, science fiction, gender and class, rather than in its visceral reality. The various lenses that define my perception and representation are traced back through my own past with the visual language of horror film, mosh pits, and a fear of the hereditary.
In depicting the uncontrollable symptoms of these diseases (tremors, stiffness, depression, mania, etc.), and through attempting their visualization in the abstract, these imprinted marks, combined with a societal understanding of disease and the body, show the various ways in which I view chronological breakdowns of the mind and body. Parkinson’s being a disease hard to diagnose before its symptoms set in, many of our medical imaging technologies cannot picture it. My work attempts to do this, giving identity to both Parkinson’s as an entity and capturing the shifting identities of those it afflicts.