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Pain and Suffering

“For as long as I can remember I have suffered from a deep feeling of anxiety which I have tried to express in my art.” Edvard Munch

 What does pain and suffering look like?  What is pain?  What is suffering? 

( Image 1 Pain and Suffering 2014 -Ben Young, 2 BLack Tuesday - Eleanor Lindsay fynn . 3 Eleanor Lindsay fynn & Martin Creed, 4 Behind the Mask of the Depressive -ELF, 5 All by Myself -ELF, 6 Remember Forget -Diana Horn, 7 Crying -ELF )

Pain and suffering is something associated with art and making art and it was this that attracted me to the field.  I used to believe that everyone suffers, because suffering is part of life, however while that might be true I have learnt there are particular wounded types that suffer more acutely, or at least more consciously.  Working, as I do, in a suicide respite, has brought me in close contact with people who are on the front line of suffering.  Not that I needed help, I have a radar for these types of people and they have a radar for me.  However on this placement it is different, as I am holding the seat of the counselor and befriender.  Somehow it is like meeting myself, or versions of myself, over and over again.  This center is like a room of mirrors and you never know what distortion you are going to meet next, the structure is somewhat chaotic, which I feel reflects the chaos behind the life death conundrum.  

My therapy training is like that too, a room full of mirrors.  My life has become an extraordinary exercise in profound navel gazing and I am completely at peace with that.  I am even making peace with my depression, or what we call depression.  Interestingly depression is actually a defense against feeling, I do not think people know this or really understand it.  But if you think about it what people, when depressed, complain of are “feelings” of numbness, emptiness and without hope.  But numbness is different type of feeling to the feelings that flow.  Numbness is the feeling, or sensation, of no feeling.  The feelings are repressed, repressed by a system that was unable to cope with the overload of feeling caused by a lack of sensitive care.  The hopelessness is there because hope like everything else is also a feeling and as well as the painful feelings not flowing, joy, love and hope are also unable to flow. Thus depressed people are without hope.  This is why, as therapists, we want people to feel the painful feelings which is why we take them back to their childhood, for that is where the blocks are born.

This process; the therapy one, is incredibly challenging.  How to make someone feel something they have suppressed for years.  The answer is you can’t. They have to want to and most people do not want to as while they might not be feeling all their feelings, their defenses are nicely in place and they are able to exist with enough comfort.  Most people have some degree of depression but they do not know it, they have enough distraction, enough to keep them in what we call the “oral compensated state” that is the grandiose state.  For people who spend most of there time in this state they are the achieving / perfectionists of the world who are fine, that is as long as everything goes according to plan and they don’t “fuck up”.  

Now when a “fuck up” does happen, it could be big such as an end of a relationship or small such as a dinner party not going to plan, they move into the depressed or “oral collapsed state”.  Now depending on how big the fuck up and the depth of their darker moods they might after an encouraging pep talk from their friend go back to the oral compensated, grandiose state and busily go about their lives not realising what just happened.  Or they get stuck there and it’s when they get stuck that stuff can start to happen.  

When you are in this depressed state NOTHING matters.  You feel the futility of everything.  Job – Meh! Money – Meh! Life – Meh! Relationship – Meh! If you don’t have one of those you might have the thought, if only I had XXX it would be fine, if only I lived XXX it would be fine.  But this is just fantasy, fantasy being a mental activity we engage in to cope with our limitations.  Fantasy is safe (mostly) – reality isn’t, reality is extraordinarily and terrifyingly difficult to accept.  So much so I have seen women pine over men for years unable to let go of the fantasy for a future that never comes, however it is possible to live in this way ad infinitum, which actually makes it an even scarier proposition than confronting reality.   

For those who get stuck in the oral collapsed state, like I have, things get hairy before they can lead to something else.  This is where the suicide respite kicks in.  I met two guests at the suicide respite both of whom were serial overdosers, and had been hospitalized many times.  However neither, it transpired, wanted to die.  What was behind the overdosing, were two women, neither able to ask for their needs to be met, and the belief that they had to do something drastic in order to get what they really craved – love and to be heard for the sufferers they are.  However the reality was that their behavior could lead them to dying and that terrified them.  Unable to stop on their own they came to us, for unconsciously what we call their healthy self, or you could call it higher self, was reaching out.  It is this internal pull to safety, matched with people there ready to reach a hand out when they do that can keep the depressed from committing suicide and eventually lead to something brighter.  This is a very beautiful thing, for me it is probably the most beautiful thing of all, the best art anyone can make.  But in order to complete the picture you need both.  Both sides have to be working together, which is why the more public and the more vocal the hand reachers become the easier it becomes, as they can find each other quicker and safer.  

For the past couple of years my life has been about getting closer and more connected with my pain.  Not just talking about it and reading about it, but feeling it in its totality.  

I think what a lot of people do not understand is what is so hard, what is so horrific and the answer to this is, no one really knows.  I could hide behind theory but I can tell you from experience that it’s not knowledge that cures, there is no magic tap you can turn to start feeling.  However the tap has been turned and now I feel, my moods shifts are bizarre, I can feel amazing and on top of the world one moment, then chronically miserable and despairing the next.  

So this, in a nutshell, I have come to realise is why, despite its somewhat horrific nature, I make the art I do, and am following the path I am on.  I believe now, that my gift, my light is in the darkness and while it is tough there it more and more I realise how incredibly beautiful it also is.   As a result my artistic practice, which has become more and more performative and experiential, utilising all medias and mediums from painting to facebook, to the point where it has become very hard to draw the line with what is art and what isn’t.  To illustrate I will leave with you my latest facebook book, which for me marked a shift from one mode of living to another.  

Facebook August 14th 2014:   Eleanor Lindsay-Fynn posted: 

“It's got to the point where my life has become epic in how shit is. It is peppered by occasional bouts of "fun" - but I am kind of considering giving that up as it's the only thing stopping me accepting just how shit it really is to be alive. To say I wish I had never been born would be an understatement but don't worry this is not a suicide note - more a letter of acceptance. And please no messages to cheer me up, this is beyond that. My challenge to myself has been to accept life as it really is for me. I am two years into that journey and imagine I still have a long way to go - but my therapist and I reckon I am doing pretty good....

Life is shit accept it!

This is Buddhism. I finally get it. The art of non attachment. You can't non attach of you haven't yet accepted life is shit. If you haven't yet accepted impermanence. There is no end stage to grief. Grief never ends. We are all grieving. Grieving the fact that we were born and will have to die. The only solution is to accept that we are grieving. To unite socially in grief. It sounds morbid and horrific but it isn't it is the most beautiful idea on the planet. Yes I am sometimes happy - yes I have fun - but attaching to the idea that "happiness" as a constant is possible is an illusion. An illusion of painful painkillers. Hanging onto those painkillers those happy moments those distractions is what is preventing us evolving as a society. Superficiality reigns supreme depth and insight but a footnote in a world of shallow headlines.  

Thanks to five rhythms for taking me on that journey and thanks Robbin Williams for bringing home to me something I have been unable to fully comprehend.  Depression - my arse - it's life that killed him.  So what I say is fuck the fun - let's all get miserable together....” 

I would like to dedicate this post to Lita, Louise (Loo), Neil who I have lost to suicide and my cousin Georgia who died from damage caused by anorexia.  

NB:  For those who want to do further reading I recommend, Alice Millar’s seminal book ‘Drama of being a child’, the must have and well titled ‘Western Body Eastern Mind’ by Anodea Judith and the technical, but brilliant and easy to read ‘Character Styles’ by Stephen Johnson.  Each book has been of incredible importance for me.  Also if you would like to get in touch personally you can find my contact details on my website www.eleanorlindsayfynn.com  

RED TAPE & Window Project @ Gazelli Art House

images shot by JEJ for FACADES

Currently @ Gazelli Art House
Works by Stanley Casselman, Hyo Myoung Kim, & Michel Platnic
Show Runs from 14/03/14 till 04/05/14

Motion Photography w/ Google+

Videos of Pictures in Motion shot by JEJ @ Saatchi 
1: Picture in Motion selections
2: Picture in Motion Finalists

other videos

With the rise of smart phones and photo-sharing, photographers from all backgrounds worldwide are embracing new technology to tell their stories in innovative ways.
Motion photography has emerged as a new trend, but until now required special tools and know-how. Google+ allows users to effortlessly and automatically animate a series of still photographs and turn them into motion photography. In recognition of the exciting potential of this new technology, the Saatchi Gallery and Google+ launched the Motion Photography Prize, inviting photographers all over the world to celebrate this new creative art form.
The Saatchi Gallery and Google+ announced the six finalists for the Motion Photography Prize, the first global open entry competition for artists and creative people working with animated GIFs. The Prize received over 4,000 entries from 52 countries.
The prize had six categories: Landscape, Lifestyle, Action, People, Night and Urban, which were judged by a panel of forward-thinkers comprised of film director Baz Luhrmann, artists Shezad Dawood, Tracey Emin and Cindy Sherman and Saatchi Gallery CEO Nigel Hurst. The six finalists chosen are:
- Instantdreamsnet Landscape
- Kostas Agiannitis Lifestyle
- Micaël Reynaud Action
- Matthew Clarke Night
- Emma Critchley People
- Christina Rinaldi Urban

The winner of the first ever Motion Photography Competition is Christina Rinaldi.
Also quite notable were the works of finalists such as Mathew Clark's work which conveyed a dark edge on life in the streets at night, as well as Micaël Reynaud's work on a bird watch.

The Flux, and I

Continuing to develop the umbrella curatorial theme of 2014 - the only thing constant in life is change – new works by John Wynne and Yoonjin Jung explore one’s inner ‘movement’ in relation to their surrounding. Thus the exhibition forms an outline of the importance of the dimensionality of space and its correlation with the various elements that come into play when considered at any given point in time. Time, as an influencing factor to both the internal and external momentum of ‘happenings’, is at once considered and eventually removed providing an overview of the present in its entirety. On a visual and audible level, one’s awareness of reality is thus stripped and heightened.
Yoonjin Jung’s new geometric and structured installations, on the contrary, playfully determine the vertical and architectural plains of our physical surroundings. Yet the viewer’s embrace of her interrelation with that which she observes, takes a different dimension due to the inconspicuous nature of the artist’s work. Sculptural installations will also be accompanied by ethereal ink on silk paintings, which stem from the traditional Korean ink paintings.
The show seeks to provide a platform for the audience to detach themselves from the effects of time in order to understand and embrace the inevitable progression of events that we have little or no control over.

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