How does one deal with trauma? How do you deal with anxiety, pain, sorrow and loss? Artwork Splinter is the result of Ciska's personal quest in processing traumatising experiences, pain and anxiety. Raised by a traumatized victim of Japanese concentrationcamps during World War II Ciska tried to comfort her mother for years, sleeping near her side in the same bed. Each night her mother made her catch tigers under her bed, allthough ofcourse there were no tigers actually present. Gradually her mom's tigers became Ciska's tigers, especially after having worked for many years as a humanitarian aidworker in Africa on the eve of the Genocide in Rwanda and in the townships and poor areas around Cape Town, South Africa, where in 1995 she succesfully helped to set up one of the first anti AIDS projects in the world. The images and memories she collected in those years further traumatised her and worsened her feeble sleeping pattern. Plagued by helish anxiety and insomnia it took her years to chase away the tigers from underneath her her bed! Returning from Africa to the Netherlands the memory of those years inspired Ciska to create Splinter, a colossal wooden four-poster bed, with television screens and surrounded by plaster-cast sculpted tigers. On the television screens the horrors she witnessed during her stay in Africa which haunted her for years are captured.
The tiger sculptures are part of a flock of emotions, a herd of phobia, symbolizing unrestrained feelings generally associated with death, discomfort, illness and catastrophe. They also symbolize our personal fears and frustrations which hold us back from becoming the best person we can become for ourselves and others.
The installation Splinter is a symbol for people's need to reflect on and psychologically process emotions. The bed also symbolizes a place we call home, a safe haven where a person finds shelter and safety, where he or she can reflect on his or her position in life. It is the place where we can escape from the hardships of daily life and rebalance our lives by elaborating on influences from the outside world and seeking to establish an internal dynamic optimum. It is a place where we can visualize and make believe.
Ciska: ‘To each and every one of us, our own life is a monument. It is the most monumental, all embracing concept that man in his short existence can grasp. The time frame, the psychological comprehension of our existence from our early childhood till the day our conscious existence on earth comes to an end, is the most monumental thing we can perceive. What came before us is history; that which comes after us - sheer fantasy. Only the monumental perception of here and now, of our present existence, is reality. This fragment which is life is our ultimate monument after which the world for us ceases to exist. Our existence yet; a splinter in history, an atom in universe. The tangibility of this insignificance, however to each individual monumental existence, I wanted to express in the creation of this large monumental four-poster bed.
A wooden four- poster bed as centre of the universe, a monument for human existence. As I witnessed many of the horrors of Africa during the 90s of the last century my bed became a place of unrelenting confrontation with my consciousness, that during the day could lose itself in healing escapism, but during the night presented itself in a inexorable confrontation and dashed me in years of devilish sleeplessness. On the television screens, images of HIV/AIDS infected children in sepia color reflect the horrors of my memories, which took me years to overcome. This bed is not only a reflection of those memories, but also a monument for a personal struggle to overcome them and a monument for individual struggle to overcome problems hoping to celebrate that life in a personal conquest. In the accompanying book Splinter four story telling lines intertwine and merge as in a fugal, in which the creation of the artworks, Splinter The Bed and Splinter Animals, are the starting point of a flash back of my life, based on thirty two diaries I have kept since I was 9 years old. This for me confronting inventory of my life path so far I have intertwined with a summary of the history of beds in general and in art history in particular’.
Splinter the Book (Dutch version) is on sale for a modest fee via the contact page.
Ciska de Hartogh