Anna Skahill

Cellular Echoes: What the body forgets


In Beyond the Pleasure Principle, Freud noted the ‘peculiar and sometimes uncanny way in which catastrophic events seem to repeat themselves for those who have passed through them’ (Freud in Caruth, p.1, 1996). In some cases, he observed that these repetitions did not seem to be ‘initiated by the individual’s own acts’, but rather appear as the ‘possession of some people by a sort of fate, a series of painful events to which they are subjected, and which seem to be entirely outside their wish or control’. Trauma, a wound inflicted on the mind, is not identifiable or locatable, because it has not been fully integrated into consciousness. Rather than be remembered, it is exists outside the borderlands of memory. Often referred to as a ‘haunting’, this ‘spectral entity’ will endlessly re-occur until the individual recognizes its original source. Only once the trauma is expressed through story, can it finally be dispelled.

Cellular Echoes: What the body can't forget (2020) is an audio and moving-image based manifestation of my attempt as an artist to shed the ‘ghosts’ of my foremother's past. In this process, I reckon with the difficulties of telling a story which simply cannot be told, and the fears of following the same path which my matriarchal ancestors have left behind. I can’t escape the story, but can I escape the cycle?