After one week, tomorrow my “I can hear you now” solo exhibition at Fuoriluogo Art and Culture Residence will end and I must admit that even if it has been very interesting to create the whole set-up by myself, I must admit it has been a quite tough experience, too.
The location is placed in my hometown, where just a few people knew about my issues with Anxiety Disorder and panic attacks. What I have done, it wasn’t just a presentation of my work, it has been a proper “coming out” as well and I have been surprised by the audience’s response. While most of participants demonstrated interest into my project and its subject matter, I had the chance to experience how “disruptive” some individuals might become when they must face “the other” and, possibly, when they don’t know how to appropriately approach those presented topics.
Dayana S. Marconi, I can hear you now, solo exhibition at Fuoriluogo Art and Culture Residence, Asti, Italy, June 8th-16th 2018. Table of activities. ©Dayana Marconi, 2018.
For the opening night, I decided to create a “Table of activities”. On one side I placed a series of ten images from a sequence I shot on June 7th, printed on transparent lucid papers and used to create a sort of dummy publication that could show the sitter’s emotional process all at once but that also allowed viewers to observe the images individually by placing a white rigid paper behind each one of them. On the opposite side, I placed fifty 10x15cm photographic prints of my “Confrontation sheets” asking all participants to make the written emotions match with the correspondent portrayed scream. I did not expect a high level of participation, so I was surprised when I saw all those people focusing their attention on those photographs and try to interpret them according to their personal experience. As said, unfortunately not all participants demonstrated the required sensitivity to approach this activity in a constructive way. In two cases, those images have been “vandalised”: instead of trying to empathise with my sitters, these two people draw brown tears on one portrait and horns on another. They did it in front of me laughing and, to be honest, while observing the scene I froze: I wasn’t able to react immediately because I re-lived the sense of sadness I experienced when my Mental Health problems haven’t been taken seriously in the past and I felt sorry for the portrayed individuals at the same time because I felt they have been absolutely disrespected. I was shocked and I thought that the right thing to do in that situation was to try to move on since there were other viewers interested in my work and asking for information.
Dayana S. Marconi, I can hear you now, snapshot of two “vandalised” Confrontation sheets. ©Dayana Marconi, 2018.
The following day, when I collected all those prints to observe the results of my research, I saw them again and I had a very strong reaction. I ripped them off with anger and frustration and I decided to use social media to publicly say a huge “NO” to these kind of behaviours. I expressed all my pain and frustration and I have never done this before in my life, but I felt like I had to protect and defend my sitters. I can only think that this strong reaction was also generated by the fact that this project is so personal that I lived that sort of attack to the individuals I portrayed as a personal attack. That post on Facebook, where I did not mention the involved individuals, engaged a long discussion and I feel grateful to all those people who supported me in that situation. I don’t know if today I would have the same reaction, but at the same time I think it is my right to strongly defend myself, my sitters and my work. These people were not strangers, this is why the situation has been more than painful to me. If I re-observe the whole situation now that I had the chance to react, I must admit that that disruptive act has been useful, at some level, in terms of my research: it demonstrated that the results of my survey were correct.
Dayana Marconi, Mental Health and Social problems in relation with Art, April-May 2918, on Survey Monkey. Screenshots of final statistics-chart related to the question “How do you think that who will observe the final images from the mentioned project will react?”. ©Dayana Marconi, 2018.
In this question I asked participants to forecast the audience’s reaction to my work and 9% of answers to “How do you think that who will observe the final images from the mentioned project will react?” (Marconi, 2018) were “They will judge the portrayed people” (Marconi, 2018), while the 4% were “They will be indifferent” (Marconi, 2018). These “negative anticipations” corresponded to a 13% of the total and, since only two people out of 50 images did not “appropriately” participated to the experiment, meaning a 4% of the total, in the end the final result has been more positive than what expected but, at the same time, it was not something completely “out of the blue”.
Analysing the exhibition from another perspective, I found intriguing that more than one participant provided me with an interesting feedback: I have been told that I have been brave since I personally exposed myself so much considering the delicate subject matter, especially when faced in my own city and also considering that the exhibition has been advertised by local press that anyone could read.
Dayana S. Marconi, I can hear you now, solo exhibition at Fuoriluogo Art and Culture Residence, Asti, Italy, June 8th-16th 2018. Snapshots of some articles published by “La Stampa”, “Gazzetta d’Asti” and “La Nuove Provincia”, June 8th 2018 issues. Slideshow. ©Dayana Marconi, 2018.
This demonstrates, once more, that Mental Health issues and social problems are, as a matter of fact, still considered as a taboo, something “that must remain untold” (Marconi, 2018) as I stated into my video-documentary. The fact that it is not considered “normal” to publicly discuss these topics demonstrates that the starting point of my research was correct.
In the end, considering both the positive and negative implications, I must say I did the right thing: “I can hear you now” is a project that wants to investigate negative emotions and individuality and that wants to serve as Art-therapy, but there is no healing without being open about my health condition, that was a necessary step, even to be 100% loyal to the aims of my practice.
Fuoriluogo Art and Culture Residence, official Website http://www.fuoriluogoasti.com/
Marconi Dayana S., I can hear you now, project’s website http://www.icanhearyounowproject.com/
Marconi Dayana S., [ɪˈmaː.ɡoː], “I can hear you now” introductive video-documentary, Asti/Rome/Los Angeles, 2018. Released on the project’s website on May 2018 http://www.icanhearyounowproject.com/project/imago-starting-point-documentary/
Marconi Dayana, Mental Health and Social problems in relation with Art, April 9th 2018, Rome, survey created on SurveyMonkey https://it.surveymonkey.com/r/LMNZZC5