Bad Hand: leave me alone (2013)      


Customised vintage angle-poise lamp with miniature video projector, vintage table and chair, sheet of white paper

The video piece, leave me alone (2013) from the series Bad Hand is in homage to the allegedly psychotic patient of a European psychiatric institution, Emma Hauck. Her penciled letters form part of the Prinzhorn Collection and are typified by one (ca 1909) in which she wrote, over and over again, «Sweetheart, come», in pencil, until the single page of paper is reminiscent of a field painting, a dense layering of text that becomes image. These letters from the asylum, to her husband, are labeled with her name and her apparent mental illness, as though the illness (if it were accurately diagnosed) was as much the author, or as though the letters-cum-artworks were a gauge or expression of her illness. If such repetitive writing was an expression of psychosis, could a state of psychosis be induced, temporarily by writing in a similar way, repetitively?

I sat in a small soundproof room and wrote the first phrase that came to me, repeatedly, until the physical pain in my hand from writing made me stop. I used a Livescribe pen, with audio which enabled me to playback, in real-time, the act of writing (and the sound of my hand and pen as I wrote) and make this into a video.

Interview about this piece for Trauma, Dublin Science Gallery

From the Modelling Psychosis series. See other works in this series Manifestations, Second Skin: Parka, Second Skin: Straitjacket, Taking your Hand. Read the artist’s statement here.