ShiftMS vs MS

I was commissioned by ShiftMs alongside other PwMS artists to respond to a statistic. “Since their RRMS diagnosis, more than 25% of respondents fear that their partner will leave them”. The statistic that I’ve been given smacked of fear, relationships, grief, loss of identity and everything else that comes with immediate reality of an MS diagnosis. I produced a piece about identity and losing points in space and time.

The work a large graphite drawing of shelves stuffed with belongings. There are Renaissance references: golden ratios, hidden compasses, modern memento mori to convey this idea. Toys represent a previous carefree existence. Books and records titles relate to space, time and relationships.

My starting point was looking at a lot of mythology and allegorical research about fear and loss but this hadn’t been working and felt a bit clichéd. I struggled to find a narrative that I thought was neither negative or positive but was in some way attractive enough to engage the viewer of the piece.

I started an accompanying workbook and artbook that both explored thoughts and lyrics around relationships and loss, artwork that pierced the 5th wall, love and defiance.

I looked at this from a different angle: THE LOSS OF PERCEIVED IDENTITY. Realising that you are not in that point in space and time that you thought you were and subsequently think that you have no anchor. It doesn’t actually have very much to do with the partner in that sense, they are one of the points in space and time that frame you, feed you purpose and meaning and love. They help you decide who you think you are but they are not you, inside your body, dealing with the physicality and psychological trauma of a potentially frightening future.

Ultimately this is about the imagined fear of something that hasn’t happened but has been given a licence. It’s about the need to make reason of your sexual self in relation to your physical well-being.

For me personally, diagnosis was an ever-changing timeline. In my head, I was relatively care-free beforehand and then over a period of time I became the ‘me’ I am now; partly-changed by the experience and no doubt will keep changing and adapting as time continues.