Thawing out 2018 - 2019
Memories you can`t remember - Memories you can`t forget.
Most day-to-day experiences immediately pass into the oblivion. But some get engraved in the memory, whether you remember them or not.
When you are sexually abused as a child, you are likely to have a childlike part living inside of you that is frozen in time. You forget the abuse, you suppress its rage and despair, sensations and thoughts from that time get stored away as unforgiving flashbacks - impossible to explain and impossible to share. The outside world becomes a minefield of invisible triggers, constantly challenging you to face the trauma from the past. Numb solitude covers you as a blanket, yet soothing touch of another human being seems unreachable and unbearable cradle.
After trauma the world becomes divided between those who share the experience and those who don’t. What has happened cannot be undone but what can be dealt with are the imprints of the trauma on the body and mind. In a rough and isolated environment of Greenland where people live in a close proximity and familiarity to each other denying some parts of reality might be the only mechanism to deal with the trauma of a frail society. There is a saying "When it`s light again, we forget what has happened in the dark". It reflects on a collective coping strategy adopted throughout the years by the most vulnerable and unprotected members of society - women and children.
Greenland, the world’s biggest island almost entirely covered with ice, is isolated from the rest of the world, as well internally - cities are not connected by roads and plane or boat tickets are extremely expensive and unaffordable for majority of population, especially indigenous. The Arctic island has in the past 50 years developed at lightning speed, transforming itself from a traditional community of fishermen and hunters to a modern society. Yet every settlement is still formed mostly by variations of close and distant bonds putting the society in big family relation to each other.
The drama of abuse is that social taboos make it invisible for other people's eyes, while affecting abused individuals who see themselves altered, different from others, filled with guilt and shame for the violence they received. The statistics on sexually abused children in Greenland is alarmingly high, and researchers admit that it is extremely challenging to get the real dimension of the problem due to unique social structure.
The idea of frozen portraits was inspired by the nature of Greenland and psychological state of mind known as freeze response common between sexually abused children. Ice melting from the portraits symbolically liberates survivors from isolation and shame they were carrying for their predators throughout the years. The process of natural thawing out of the ice may take considerable amount of time reflecting the real process of dealing with the trauma - that has no distinct "finish line”.
For every person in the story there is a specific method of freezing and melting the print based on the individual process of going through the trauma.