Conversational collages 2

Benna: As I said, I am using the titles to guide me. What is interesting is why you chose those titles. I used ‘I am a breath of fresh air’ (a poem) and I cannot tell you why I used the poem, the English not Maltese version. The client is someone with a high standard of education. If you had to ask me why I chose a poem in particular, I don’t know. So I think this is the therapist using gut feeling. What’s good about the work is that there is a choice. What the client got out of it is the sharing of pain, the coming together through pain… Now how can it be used? What is interesting though Pam is that the more I’m using it, the more it’s forming. We are trying to explore.

Pam: The more we use it, the more perspective we gain on it. If I use it, somehow it is biased. When you use it, it’s different because you are going to give me an objective look into what it can do. Do you think it helps the clients open up?

Benna: Rather than open up, as I think these particular patients would have had no problem to open up, it helped them to get in touch with themselves. The visuals have a universal language, they go beyond.

Pam: This is my opinion, but I believe when something is genuine, the truth just resonates within the person.

Benna: I don’t just think it’s just genuine, I think you are underestimating yourself. This shows a creation by someone who is very much in touch with herself, in touch with truths, in touch with suffering and having the commitment to evolve. So it’s not just genuine.

This is what we do as therapists too. I would love to have something here which is emerging from the wisdom that has grown within us. This research, our conversations, are about how we can transmit, in an artistic way, this wisdom, these stories. We are trying to change a clinical area…

Pam: into one that touches into this understanding.

Benna: Once we document, with the rationale behind it and with the process, the journey we are doing, we are exploring the effect your audio-visual clips are having on clients. But here we are getting my thoughts and yours, developing them, listening to ourselves talk and our bodies react. Like your excitement now and the way it makes me feel alert and there is a certain almost gentleness, like I am smiling inside and it gives me hope. It makes the world, not a place without suffering but a place with suffering and yet with love and hope.

Pam: And the biggest gift you can give anyone is the gift of self, when you are ready to listen and empathise.

Benna: More than that. This goes beyond. There is so much that cannot be expressed.

Pam: A commonality…and it is this connection that consoles.

Benna: If you had to look at your art, rather than consoles, it is what holds so that you can become who you need to become. So I cannot live your journey for you but I can contain, I can hold so that you can go on with your own journey.

Benna: Over and over again I get patients telling me, ‘My God, this place represents something so horrible, getting cancer. And yet you come here and there is so much serenity. So what we are trying to do is make that serenity visual and palpable, something you can touch, make it material.

Pam: Understand it so that we can compound it, sustain it. So that what you offer through your own person can also be reflected in the surroundings. So there is this harmony.

Benna: Something that amazes me is how the patients hook into their own issues after seeing the work. Possibly if you show the same video to different people they would have different reactions to it…

I used ‘Worn Passage’ with this other patient as I wanted to see what was going to project onto it. The client said that it has a lot of significance as she was identifying with that. This gives hope that there is the calm after the storm and acceptance of what life offers. So if we are talking about the work calming the person down, it does do that.

What I also thinking Pam it that we either see it as a tool to help patients calm down or if we are seeing it in a bigger project, we can see it as something more continuous. I was thinking about the different patients; it’s one thing going in for surgery and you know 100% you are going to be healed afterwards and it’s another thing going in for an operation when there is cancer and there could be metastasis, where there is so much unknown, when you have to go through very toxic treatment: chemotherapy and radiotherapy. So I am seeing this Deep Shelter Project more in terms of a journey. If we are going to allow the works to inform us, we are taking Deep Shelter beyond, to use art, music as a container throughout the journey, the work isn’t something you see once say before a medical procedure to calm down…I don’t know if it started out that way ?

Pam: It started out to fill a need, maybe more of a personal need. You say, what visuals would soothe me, what visuals would ‘fill’?

Benna: Do you realise that what you have produced is not only soothing, not only filling? Do you realise? The breadth and the depth is much, much greater and this is why we are developing it into something greater, something which is not just a container but is…part of this evolution.

Benna: Also, when you believe that when you go beyond the physical existence to the non-physical one, it is a journey towards perfection, towards growth. It’s an evolution, so if you are latching on to that, you are latching onto something that is a bit more evolved. This will pull you up.

It depends whether the person is going to look at it and allow it to touch them. Your art talks to me in a certain way, they really talk to me. As artists you know this on an intuitive level.

Pam: How I work is coming into tune with this.

Benna: Part of your project is you working through your innermost fears and resentments, maybe even those on an unconscious level. You have used it not just transcended it, it’s part of your project. You have worked it like dough.