In an essay entitled "Trauma and Experience," Cathy Caruth explains that trauma cannot be defined by the event or the experience which causes the trauma, rather it is defined by the way that the individual responds to such event or experience.*
Normal memory allows us to move back and forth through experiences. With traumatic memory, the experience possesses us where recollection of the event emerges uncontrollably in dreams and flash-backs as well as in feelings of isolation and even insanity. Traumatic memory causes the self to fragment and splinter. In an attempt to heal, I believe that one seeks to assemble the fragments. Yet, recollection reemerges unwillingly, and one tries to reconstruct again and again. The former, the pre-traumatized self, cannot be regenerated.
The ten figures in this installation embody the psychological healing process of the post-traumatized. The casting process yields as many as thirty-seven separate pieces per figure. During the casting and reconstruction phases, I felt as if I had become the catalyst for trauma and for healing. The casts are remnants of the roles of inflictor and healer that I assumed while making them. The varied absences and disfigurements represent different levels of detachment. Together in appearance, these figures actually exist apart and empty, as discarded shells.
Whether our experiences are catastrophic or less severe, we could all have encountered this sort of detachment. The casts capture us seeking fulfillment through recovery's cycle. Perhaps there is no final healing moment for traumatic experience. Maybe some of us are still waiting to understand our own traumatic pasts.
* "Trauma and Experience." Trauma: Explorations in Memory. Ed. Cathy Caruth. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins UP, 1995. 3-12.