Trauma and Art : The Hidden Scars

Everlyn Nicodemus
19 June 2006 to 28 July 2006

While increased media coverage has helped raise general awareness of war infected Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), psychiatrists have further investigated the widespread social traumatic afflictions resulting from repeated psychological assaults, within the civilian population. Trauma and Art: The Hidden Scars presented Everlyn Nicodemus’s body of work, which represents an extended approach to the notion of trauma, as well as encouraging a better understanding of the impact of individual and cultural psychological traumas and their effects as major disabling afflictions.

Based upon I.W. Charny’s Encyclopedia of Genocide, Everlyn Nicodemus’s Reference Scroll on Genocide, Massacre and Ethnic Cleansing (2004) sets the historical and political context of the exhibition. Clinically, exhaustively and painfully listing centuries of genocides around the world, it emphasises the limits of visual representation as a tool for the artist to truthfully render the terrifying extent of extreme suffering and evil. Developing the notion of “politics of trauma”, Nicodemus’s scroll investigates how massacres, ethnic cleansings and their memories are ideologically appropriated, sometimes exploited for political reasons and how traumas can eventually evolve into historical taboos.

Dealing with a more personal and analytical approach to the traumatic experience, the Beyond Depiction video (2004), along with a series of drawings and mixed media works, embodies Nicodemus’s own experience of trauma. It unveils the psychological mechanisms leading to PTSD and explores the paths to recovery. The Identikitten video (2006) looks at the smaller scale, day-to-day, repetitive but nonetheless traumatic occurrences encountered by individuals, and particularly by black and minority ethnic communities.

Everlyn Nicodemus (born 1954, Tanzania) is an artist, writer and independent scholar. Over the past twenty years, she has exhibited her work internationally and has taken part to numerous conferences. As a resarcher, Nicodemus was commissioned work by inIVA (in Nigeria and South Africa) and several of her essays on art, interculturalism and trauma were published by Third Text. She currently lives and works in Brussels.