DSP conceptual image 2

Meaningful shelter


Pamela Baldacchino sees her art production in terms of projects which are, not surprisingly, tied to her professional life experience in hospitals where, as she points out, the question of meaning; the meaning of life and death, and of illness itself, is endemic to being a patient and to the practice of medicine. Her more ultimate intention as an artist is to put her art to the service of healthcare. But she does not see it as replacing empathic intervention with regards to therapeutic function - so what can it do instead?

This is, indeed, the question that leads her into considering the question of meaning which she represents as central to the experience of illness - since illness can be represented, and often is, the experience of meaninglessness - as an artistic possibility. Particularly struck by a statement about the crisis of meaning in art she met with recently, but which is not in itself recent since it was what triggered off what we refer to as modernism, she locates the space of her art, of her artistic intervention to be precise, in a space where meaning is often in crisis - and that space is the physical space of the hospital, the space where, ironically, illness is defined, where it is given meaning, or at least labelled.

The result of her particular artistic intervention into the physical space of the hospital and the metaphorical space of illness is the Deep Shelter Project, the product of a ten month process which is still ongoing at this time of writing and which acquires form in audio-visual language. This language is inevitably, in her hands, the language of nature encountered in her own personal and poetic way. The name of the project indicates what the artist ultimately wants the artwork to produce when it is transferred into the real spaces of hospitals; namely a feeling of being deeply sheltered for the patient, and therefore a feeling of comfort which is beyond the possibility of words to convey, within an experience which is otherwise distressingly meaningless.

Profs. Kenneth Wain