Juliana Irene Smith: Stoner Girls
Textile works part of the series Rainbow Catharsis, 2020 – ongoing
The works are each unique pieces.
Dimensions: 91 x 68 cm (K x L)
Mixed media on textile
Location: Photographic Gallery Hippolyte (Yrjönkatu 8-10, 00120 Helsinki)
From the exhibition: Lactose Intolerant
4–27 August 2023
Photographic Gallery Hippolyte
The exhibition at Hippolyte gallery presents an installation of works that confront trauma—intergenerational and actual—and the processes of recovery. The artist is the product of her mother’s violent trauma; there was abuse within her family and violence that occurred to the artist outside the home. Smith’s unequivocal desire is that those traumas do not become her child’s.
Smith believes that trauma is a clean word that says something without having to say anything. It summarises all the bad things: abuse, violence, assault, neglect, and all the subcategories within that, sexual abuse, rape, emotional and physical neglect, and loss, to name a few. Trauma puts those in an easy-to-understand package without having to tell about the unspeakable details. Nevertheless, Smith expresses her willingness to answer questions or provide further information if desired—as to engage in a conversation about the weight of trauma and how the act of creating could potentially be a form of healing.
The exhibition consists of three parts. Good Feelings Everyday (2020 – ongoing) features analogue snapshot photographs hanging in strips on the wall. They represent the artist’s current reality living in Finland and help ground her when invasive thoughts take over. Rainbow Catharsis (2020 – ongoing) showcases textile collages that incorporate used household fabrics and personal photographs to evoke a material, textual, and visual memory as a means towards reclamation. The works are direct and unafraid of confrontation. There is no messing about except in the paint strokes. The aesthetic qualities of colour, imperfection, flaws, and a sense of urgency reflect the artist’s desperation to expel, in her words, the “bad things” from her body and recover from the past. The ten-minute sound work, I Stopped Wearing Skirts (2023), is a combination of chronologically arranged clips taken from recordings of exposure therapy, which the artist underwent for eight weeks in 2022 under proper guidance. The clips are mixed with a nostalgic 80s-sounding cinematic soundtrack that references the artist’s youth.