2013 MFA Thesis Exhibition Series: Carrie Debacker

“On (Re)Mission: Illness and Expression”

Still from (Re)mission

Film still from (Re)Mission

When the body becomes ill, it can no longer be taken for granted, disquieting a sense of corporeal self-knowledge. Despite the fact that the experience of illness is universal – something all living beings can expect to encounter to some extent during their lifetimes – disease is persistently othered while health is normalized. The trauma of illness differs from other types of violence, as the individual must grapple with the notion that the body has betrayed itself from the inside; that the self co-exists on a micro and macro level. All the while, the body of the patient is positioned as a passive object to be scrutinized through the gaze of an external viewer, leading to self-surveillance of corporeal processes.

Responding to the widespread use of often problematic metaphorical language to describe illness, my work seeks to develop a personal language of embodied self-representation. I re-examine the lenses through which we view our corporeal interiors, creating new possibilities for agency. My work embraces the idea of the inside of the body as a theater or stage, upon which figures perform gestures.

Still from (Re)Mission

Film still from (Re)Mission

(Re)mission uses stop-motion animation techniques to create a halting, fragile sense of movement. A portal opens up within the center of the body. To animate the piece, hand-cut and painted figures created on a small scale were photographed mostly using a macro lens and projected to many times their actual size. Their imperfections are magnified. In a display of ambiguous gestures, figures swarm, march on parade, interact with one another, appear and disappear. As the piece progresses, tensions are revealed: between the real and imagined, intimacy and illusion, lighthearted humor and something more sinister.

Through the gestures performed in (Re)mission, I seek to turn the gaze inward, expressing awareness of corporeal processes on the micro level within pre-established tropes of early cinematic and figural representation. The sense of self expressed in the piece manifests as veiled, illusory, and fragmented, revealing an uncertain space between corporeal knowledge and incommunicability, control and lack thereof.

By Carrie DeBacker (May 17, 2013)

Still from (Re)Mission

Film still from (Re)Mission

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