The substance of survival

Like Degas,
Ethereal white,
Amid darkness.

Her quivering limbs,
Stark and lined,
Strong and supple.

Elegant, graceful,
Even disembodied,
She is learning.

How to


She is

Sister piece to Substance (Series)#3

The substance of survival


Joined March 2009

  • Artist
  • Artwork Comments 22

Artist's Description

Kallena Kucers (aka DragonFlyer) has received well-deserved acclaim for her series of artworks depicting The Sense of Self

From the series of works entitled SUBSTANCE I was inspired to write this poem for #3

Below is a description which was used to explain the conceptual and theoretical foundations of the series of works in her phenomenal exhibition

If a young child must grow in an environment in which he/she cannot be safely held, and escape in the mind is at times necessary and has been learnt, this skill has further implications for the developing young person as they sense themselves to ‘be’ in their growing and developing body.

All of us, as we grow in infancy, need to learn to sense where each of us ‘begins and ends’, where our boundaries are. This includes the ability to feel ones self as grounded in the body. An awareness that the body ‘fits’ us, an awareness where each of us ‘begins and ends’ and where the next person ‘begins and ends’ as someone other than ‘us’, together with the ability to feel and be aware of feeling any sensations impacting on the body at the time they are happening.

If the dissociative skill of ‘flight’ has needed to be learnt then, of course, the body is no longer felt to be as it really is, all the time. Physical feelings are also ‘dissociated and left behind in the room’ as the mind flies away.

If this skill of ‘physical dissociation’ needs to be used often, if can then become an unconscious means of coping in many situations – even some that may otherwise not seem so dangerous, distressing and painful. And, the sense of self a person has of really being IN their own body may never fully develop.

But then, for a child growing up in such circumstances, that child will not be aware of his/her loss. He/she has not ever known another, healthier and more complete way of being. Other skills will be learnt to compensate for the gaps in memory, the confusion that can arise from regularly finding themselves in situations others assume they know (as they HAVE been there before), but have no conscious memory of it.

Though emotional (feeling) development is shut down as feelings and emotions are dissociated, cognitive and intellectual development may even be enhanced, through the necessity to compensate for what has never been known to be.

But, though ‘flight in the mind’ from situations that are too overwhelming and painful to manage is possible, the body does, and must in reality, actually remain in that situation. Conscious awareness of being trapped may be lost, but something of the ‘self’, some part of the mind as well as the physical body will and must retain a memory of the events that happened, that needed to be flown away from.

In time, there may develop a sense that the body in a way ‘acts and feels’ on it’s own. Strange sensations and urges most probably will develop, that cannot be understood until the memory of what the body was forced to experience is made eventually conscious.

Artwork Comments

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