On the Limits of Healing Can anyone truly heal from a traumatic experience? Nina Mdivani, δημοσίευση στο Hyperallergic [8/1/2023]
BERLIN, Germany — How can we define healing when facing trauma, and can anyone truly heal from a traumatic experience? In YOYI! Care, Repair, Heal at Gropius Bau, organized by Berliner Festspiele, 25 artists and art collectives engage the audience in an honest discussion on the possibility of making peace with our individual and collective pasts, and their complicated histories. The artists focus on displacement, violence, and loss of ecological habitats and homes.
The landscape of Berlin is filled with physical and psychological wounds. Healing is part of life, a process that takes place one day at a time, making this an ideal venue for an exhibition that considers trauma and its aftermath. The absence of a prescriptive structure when it comes to painful conversations turns this exhibition into a truly transformative and thoughtful experience. But an experience that also underscores the limits of healing.
The works look at pain and healing through the discourse of feminism, postcolonialism, ecological sustainability, and fair land use. Among the most intimate and disturbing sources of trauma here is rape. Artemisia Gentileschi, who was violated by her mentor and teacher, is represented alongside a depiction of abortion by Paula Rego — one of many by the artist. These works by Rego became part of a public pro-choice campaign that influenced the 2007 legalization of the procedure in Portugal, enabling women to make decisions about their own bodies. For both Gentileschi and Rego confronting the violence is a crucial part of healing. But this confrontation is less a resolution than a reckoning. In her large canvas “Susanna and the Elders” (c. 1610), Gentileschi allegorically depicts her own personal tragedy by representing a humiliating public examination by the court to restore the family reputation after being raped. Healing sought through the pursuit of public justice brought more pain.