Regina G. Santaella | Art Jobs

Regina G. Santaella

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AMENTIA

CONCEPT

 Personal experience with mental illness (Bipolar II Disorder, Generalised Anxiety Disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, dissociation and psychosis, Anorexia Athletica, Anorexia Nervosa, Orthorexia, Exercise Addiction).
 Register actions, thoughts, emotions, etc. when suspending pharmaceutical treatment over a period of 2-3 weeks.
 The research and chronicling of the experience was translated into a series of mixed media art pieces combining painting and photography.
 Pharmaceutical treatment has proven to be beneficial for me because it allows me to function as a “normal” member of society. However, it does have disadvantages (I usually describe the feeling of being on medication as “trying to run underwater”) and I often find myself wondering if my medication is overpowering, suppressing or simply hiding part of who I am. It’s always hard to separate myself from my disorders: I do not want them to define me, but I can’t deny the important role they play in who I am.
 The final pieces will not be a literal documentation of my mental illness, but more of an abstract representation of feelings and sensorial perceptions in the form of texture and colour.

PURPOSE

Undeniably, Amentia is born out of a personal desire to put my mind at ease and understand my life with mental illness better. Personal satisfaction and sublimation of self experience on a psychoanalytical level are certainly an important motivation.

Nevertheless, I also intend to shed some light on the reality of mental illness, for they are sometimes dismissed and not considered as real as other types of diseases. What is more, they are stereotyped and stigmatized, which makes it harder for them to be considered valid. I interact on a daily basis with people struggling with different forms of mental illness, and while it is true that everyone’s experience is different, we do have a lot in common. Moreover, I wish to contribute in destroying the idea of mentally ill people as weak victims of their condition.

PROCESS

In most cases, we have a tendency to focus on a certain final result as the most important part of a project or a situation. Nevertheless, I believe the majority of what makes something rich lies within the process, which can easily get lost if we choose to ignore it. Hence, although Amentia does have tangible pieces that could count as a result, they won’t be considered “final”, for this project will remain on-going, with its main focus always on the process.

With my episodes come a series of uncontrollable racing thoughts that can go from childhood trauma to random nonsensical babble. I decided to place note pads everywhere so I could record as many of these ideas as I possibly could (that’s the thing with racing thoughts, they’re not easy to “grab”). Also as a result of my episodes – especially hypomanic episodes –, I can sometimes experience particularly intense bursts of creativity. They are usually triggered by the fact that my senses are so incredibly heightened – thus my synaesthesia as well – that I experience a desperate need to “get them out” from inside me and place them into something external – whether it be a canvas, a song, a random piece of trash…

THE RESULTING PIECES

Series of self-portraits, given the very personal nature of the theme, and paint over them, which symbolizes the overwhelming waves of stimuli and
sensations that I experience. They can be so intense, at times it feels like they are literally on me, overpowering me.