The Hysteria Project

Those of us with chronic illnesses deserve a future where our pain is believed, where we are diagnosed quickly, and have solid treatments. Through radical listening, and breaking down the taboos around chronic illness and menstruation, and using our stories to educate medical practitioners, The Hysteria Project can be a small part of that future.

The Hysteria Project is a one-on-one storytelling project dealing with menstruation, reproductive, and pelvic disorders, illustrated by individual portraits of participants’ reproductive organs based on their stories. These life-size, intimate works start in a traditional darkroom where I use lace instead of negatives to make color prints that I cut up and collage onto a gold leaf background. The exhibited works are mounted in gilded laser-cut plexiglass frames.

The process of actively listening to people tell the narrative of their bodies, sometimes for the first time, is as vital as the actual artworks. This is listening as activism. Many storytellers have suffered silently for many years. Some had never talked to anyone, because in many cultures menstruation and illness are taboo. And the thing that virtually all of us share is having our experiences dismissed by the medical community.

The online archive of stories and artwork is searchable by symptom, diagnosis, and keyword. People with gynecological disorders can thus read stories and see that they are not alone in their experiences. Moreover, doctors and future medical practitioners can learn from our lived experience and become better, more compassionate caregivers.

Right now the stories are told via Zoom. If you have a story to contribute, please get in touch.

Funded by Die Beauftragte der Bundesregierung für Kultur und Medien.

installation shot of 21 collages of uteruses

Website by Lucie Ducrey and Laura Piccolo.

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