The nature of anorexia. Project-study.
To date, anorexia is considered to be the most lethal mental illness, the death rate varies from 15 to 25%. The number of cases has increased 10-fold over the past 5 years and cases of illness among 10-11 year olds have long been considered common. One of the Russian-speaking communities, which promotes and cultivates extreme thinness, has 4 million subscribers and their number is constantly growing. This is not surprising because our consciousness is being violated by bright, unambiguous, very specific images coming from literally everywhere that do not leave room for maneuver: being perfect is no longer a privilege of movie stars; it found a way to small apartments, universities and schools, it destroys the lives of people, and what’s the most menacing - the children.
There are many factors that contribute to all of this and undoubtedly it would be wrong to name only one, but nevertheless I would like to focus on the inner necessity of a modern man to measure up to the ideal, the very ideal that is slipping away as we approach it. Beauty magazines, tabloids, fashion industry and social networks promote an overly critical attitude to ourselves and our appearance, reinforced by the perfect-looking TV stars, fashion bloggers etc. It became common to emphasize it, discuss, admire it and look for imperfections. People with anorexia are often condemned, accused of being stupid and having nothing to do in life, they are not understood or accepted.
Studying the nature of anorexia, the artist cannot be objective because she has experienced such an eating disorder and to this day is in a constant struggle with herself. But at the same time this project is about feelings and sensations and its main mission is to shift the focus from condemnation to understanding. Since about 97% of Anorexia Nervosa cases are women and girls of different ages, like the artist herself, the project has become very feminine. It is a sincere story of many women about what and why they have experienced or are experiencing with an afterword of the artist. This project is about different feelings: pride and joy, bitterness and despair, self-torture, envy, shame, fear and loneliness, it’s about seeking help and trying to regain oneself. This is a project about what women feel about their appearance in the modern world and how much they have to blend in, in order not to be condemned by themselves and the others.
"Pride" is a mini-display of photographs, an attempt to comprehend the aesthetics of Anorexia Nervosa, to ask what feelings the viewer really feels when looking at these images. (All images are taken from open sources or shot from the computer screen and do not violate copyrights).
"Shame" - abstract works in mixed technique on pages of a Czech cookbook from 1960. Each work is a silent cry, visualization of relations with the surrounding world and food through the prism of anorexia.
"Anger" - a performance where a female body will be presented as a material for consideration: what does it mean today to be a woman and why actually being naked and having the feeling of being naked may no longer have a difference. The performance will be a kind of therapy for the artist and will serve as an action against the habitual self-torture that millions of women around the world are engaged in.
Maria Proshkowska has been invited for a residency at AIR FUTURA in the frame of a residency exchange with our partner Shcherbenko Art Centre in Ukraine.
Special thanks for helping to prepare the project: