Art and healing

The suffering of body, mind and soul sets off a crisis of the biography of the ill person and her or his community. The habitual orders disintegrate. Plans crumble. Continuing incarnated routines and customs becomes doubtful, and going back to the familiar before often turns out to be impossible. Life looks no longer as we had imagined it. The crisis of illness constitutes at once also a crisis of our images of life and of ourselves.

With my artistic work, I desire to contribute to the renaissance and renewed blooming of the generative, revitalizing power of inner images and of imagination both of the ill and the ones standing by and attending them.

 

Turbulent confluence of imageries

As we suffer and traverse the crisis of illness, various universes of imageries come to flow together in a dialogue among them:

  • The universe of images of the patient - self-images of herself or himself, of his or her actual state and future perspectives, of memory and hope. Depending on the severity of the illness, it may become necessary to not only critically review one’s own imageries but to bid farewell and let them go all together. Under such circumstances, the patient’s crisis can ignites at once a profound transformation of the imagery of the people closest and dearest to her or him.
  • The universe of images of family and friends - images of the ill person and her or his station and role in the community, as well as their own self-images:  for, the sudden vulnerability of a nearby person is prone to cause hefty turbulences of one’s own images as well, and to incite a crisis of family’s and friends’ images of life, suffering, defenselessness and finity.
  • The universe of scientific images - technological images (such as visualization techniques) and representations of the symptoms, possible causes and healing perspectives.
  • The universe of images of doctors, therapists, nurses and staff - images of the patients and their illness, as well as their personal images and imaginations on possible healing paths and potentials.
  • The universe of images of accompanying priests, pastors and other spiritual guides: images of the sense of suffering and the significance of a meaningful life and death.
  • The universe of images of general society - images of health, illness, the role of medicine and science, the hospital or clinic, and of a happy, worthy and dignified life.

At times, these universes of images fuse harmonically. Often, however, they remain separate and detached from another; be in the mind and soul of the patient, be in her or his surrounding. This can produce a tumultuous mayhem of dissociated images, which potentially encumbers healing. I do believe that art can favor the healing processes diving into the profundity of such fusions – or confusions – of images, exploring its deep-seated energies, and fortifying a regenerative dialogue between outer and inner realities. 

 

A joint quest

Exploring the diverse universes of images that flow together in healing spaces, requires a joint venture of actors from all fields involved: doctors, therapists, nurses, staff, scientists, and – clinical and medical conditions permitting - even patients and their beloved ones. All share the same transversal questions:

  • Which are the personal, medical, scientific and social images rallying together in the hospital’s or the clinic’s everyday life?
  • Which are the characteristics and properties of this entanglement of images, and how might they – favorably or unfavorably – influence the healing perspectives?
  • Which are the medical, therapeutic, didactical and creative measures that may, in a focused fashion, strengthen the healing power of such universes of images?

As every field brings to the joint table its own images, an inclusive composition evolves. This collection serves – factually and metaphorically – as a communal viewing space, which attracts and unites the diverse and even diverging viewpoints, visions and interpretations.  Art contributes by creatively stimulating and enriching the quest for the existential images that guide our understanding of illness, healing, and a dignified life.

 

A joint view

When they view and examine the rich universe of images in their own hospital or clinic, doctors, therapists, nurses, staff and other stakeholders of the healing process can then identify those areas, which will most benefit from specific measures (tailored to the concrete clinical conditions and requirements) to strengthen the healing power of inner and outer images.

Opening the collection of images to scientific audiences and the general public creates the opportunity to deepening two dialogues – the conceptual dialogue on the role of images in the healing process, and the dialogue between the inside world and the outside world of healing spaces.

 

An organic and differentiated contribution

My vision of an artistic contribution to healing processes is that the creative involvement emerges from within the universe that it serves, instead of being brought to it as an add-on from the outside. I have great respect for the power of images. If in such critical times such as illness images do not evolve and come to bloom organically, they might even become counterproductive. Therefore I believe that a creative participation in the healing process does call for a dialogue between medicine and art.