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-A Genealogy of Trauma

A cross-media project about trauma and legacies, love and violence.

生(Sheng), is a verb, a noun and an adjective. As a noun, it means everything that has a life; as adjective, it describes things that are related to life; as a verb, it describes the action of birth, growth, breeding, reproduction, living, rising, appearing and reincarnating.
I am part of a family whose values are built on a patriarchal structure. Growing up I learnt first-hand that violence was an important part in a child’s upbringing, that words and acts often echo falsely, and that no one should question that way of being. Even the maternal figures of my family have endured these ways silently, never trying to change things, never taking a stand. Whenever I asked my grandmother and mother why things have to be this way and why they don’t want change they always had a readymade reply, “you never experienced anything, you will understand when you grow up.”

Now I am in my 30s, and when I look back at my past, their foretelling rings falsely. I still don’t understand what they understood so naturally. Perhaps it is their experiences where the secret of passive acceptance lies? So, I started this project, using art as a fantasy structure to approach their non-material past, researching in history and memory, regional history and culture,  linguistic in the field of generational trauma theory, to reimag(in)e my female ancestors’ unspeakable affects, in order to gain insight into the psychic life of my female ancestors, to understand how traumatic events were experienced and remembered. How has trauma shaped our unconscious? How is trauma passed from one generation to another unconsciously in the familial space? I needed to bring the traces of trauma into the present, accurately reconstruct of the past and commit exchange with it.

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