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Mending the Past

The Power Plant hosted a Start Writing workshop and private tour of Kader Attia’s exhibition The Field of Emotion.

After experiencing any sort of trauma, repair must be undertaken to begin healing what happened in the past. That process is more complex than it seems at first. Kader Attia’s exhibition The Field of Emotion focuses on the many different meanings that “repair” has to humans.

The Power Plant presents The Field of Emotion, Attia’s first solo exhibition in Canada, from Jan. 27-May 13, 2018. An image from his installation J’accuse (I accuse) (2016) is pictured above. In conjunction with the exhibition, I facilitated two writing sessions that picked up on themes and idea from Attia’s work.

Mending the Past is a hands-on writing workshop that invites participants to consider memory and trauma, whether personal or perceived in society. After a tour and discussion of Attia’s exhibition, writers will be invited to create and share new pieces of flash fiction, poetry or memoir in response to open-ended exercises.

The notion of writing as a healing practice has deep roots in the Amherst Writers & Artists’ method. In Writing Alone and with Others, Pat Schneider observed that writing images from your imagination and memory is a healing act:

“That which was broken or only dimly understood comes clear as you write . . . (t)he essential act of making art recreates the artist as it reforms the world.”

Pat also wrote that what many call writer’s block is “almost always the result of scar tissue, of disbelief in yourself accumulated as a result of unhelpful responses to your writing.” Mending the Past utilizes Pat’s AWA method to encourage writers to share personal thoughts in a safe and non-critical environment, without expectation or damage to the writer’s self-esteem.


Thanks to all the writers who participated, and a special thanks of course to The Power Plant and our hosts Josh Heuman and Tim Chandler.


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