Improving self-awareness is often a key to success in psychotherapy. In sessions I often consider how someone is lopsided or what’s missing. Three of the art works at the 2014 Carnegie International did exactly the same thing in paying attention to opposite energy.
Fear is something many people are lopsided in. Is that true of you? If it is, explore what is the opposite of fear in your mind? The answer will be unique to who you are because there are so many possibilities.
Security might be one answer. Courage seems more accurate to me. It takes courage to know & accept there is no such thing as security. The reality is we live in a difficult world where natural disaster or someone without a heart can easily make our world collapse. Like the tsunami that destroyed the life of the author of the non-fiction book Wave, Sonali Deraniyagala.
If you have an expectation that you can create a safe world through control, you are only pretending to yourself. It’s like the difference between Disneyland & the real Grimm’s fairy tales. Disney does not allow Cinderella’s stepsister to chop off her toe or heel with a knife (as in Grimm) to fit in the glass slipper, she just squeezes her foot in.
Honest security is the courage to accept reality can be very dark.
Art can often have a similar appreciation for what’s missing. The Mexican artist Pedro Reyes who took weapons captured from the drug cartels and created the work Disarm which is a collection of self playing instruments. The Gallery Guide for the Carnegie International describes Reyes as “interested in the purposeful & playful, in turning ‘agents of death” into ‘instruments of life’.”
The British artist, Sarah Lucas created sculptures called NUDs that consist of tights & wire. The Gallery Guide says “One of the core tasks of sculpture is the transformation of the human body into an object. For centuries, this transformation was coded by the masculine eye & executed by men. Lucas embraces this tradition with irreverence, even contempt…she mocks the celebratory use of material such as bronze or marble, and replaces the heroic with the flabby.”
MLaden Stilinovic is an artist from Croatia who believes authority uses words & money for power. He takes a dictionary which represents power and obliterates all the words and writes in the word pain because pain is the opposite of power. He says “pain is the consequence of power.”
The work in sculpture & painting of Nicole Eisenman (born in France, lives in NYC) is also irreverent. The Guide says she has an “uncanny capacity for capturing the joy, pain,embarrassment & ecstasy of being human.” Compare her “Venus Spring Fling” to the painting by Botticelli above.
All four artists capture opposite energy. All four resonated inside of me as carrying important, unrecognized truths. The same way a therapist looks for unrecognized truths in the client.
Psychotherapists pay attention to the unexplored parts of who someone is, the parts that need to be experimented with in order to be more whole and have more range to who you are. The more whole you are restores your ability to recognize possibilities & then make better choices.
Who wants to be so lopsided you end up being boring & predictable? I want to be both a hard worker & good at being delighted, having fun. I want to laugh deep down from my belly & be able to truly wail at great tragedy. The goal is to be more whole & embrace different parts of who you are, which is one of my favorite parts.
Art heals the world & makes it whole, while therapy heals the individual. They both ask for either greater awareness or self awareness. Artists & psychotherapists have more in common than one might suspect.