Representations of Pain
Prof Ariela FreedmanZoom
Pain is frequently described as a problem for representation, difficult to picture or articulate, frequently invisible and unprovable, a private experience which poses a problem for discourse itself. Recently, however, critics have begun to challenge the reification of the ineffability of pain, arguing, as Anne Boyer does in The Undying, "Suppose for a moment that claims about pain's ineffability are historically specific and ideological, that pain is widely declared inarticulate for the reason that we are not supposed to share a language for how we really feel." "Pain," she continues, "indeed, is a condition that creates excessive appearance. Pain is a fluorescent feeling." This paper will explore the articulation of pain through a virtual tour of an online exhibition, Representations of Pain (https://representationsofpain.com/), which interrogated representations and expanded definitions of pain through a variety of media, from fine arts to the sciences. Based on my own research and curated by Thalia Stefaniuk, this exhibition provided a broad spectrum of visibilities to combat the isolation and invisibility of pain and aimed to create community during a period of isolation and collective grief.