The Unseen Side of Emotional Abuse (Documented Performance 2015)
My roommate and friend, Patrick Olson and I worked on a project together. He’s a talented artist, designer, and poet. Not to mention a beautiful human who I’m honored to call one of my best friends.
I asked if I could document his performance piece for a screen printing class. Since the final critique we’ve expanded on it together. He screen printed on his ex's shirt, "This shirt belongs to Dylan Garcia who abused me for a year." His shirt and pants covered his body entirely, but when he entered the classroom he started taking off his clothes. Written on Patrick's body are direct quotes that his abuser has said, shouted, or written to him.
The class reaction was very empathetic and insightful. However, eventually after the critique Patrick just had to go about his day like normal covering up the words again with his chosen garments. We biked home together and I asked Patrick if I could photograph him washing the words off of his body. The space was more intimate, closed, and didn't feel as safe as the room full of people. I watched Patrick as he disrobed and scrubbed the harsh words off of his body. The process of washing the ink off of his body much mimics the rippling effect of abuse. No matter how hard he scrubbed, he'd just have to wait for some of the words to fade. I photographed him in his room the next day as the words were still there but slowly fading.
Dylan Garcia is a poet who is recognized by a large fan base. I do not and will not support him because of the harm that he's done to someone who I love. Someone who's still in recovery from the abuse that Dylan has put him through. Abuse that he must cary the memory of, even though the ink has faded away. But there is hope. Patrick is a strong, beautiful person who I am very proud to call my roommate and best friend. He's gotten me through a lot this year and if it wasn't for him I don't know how I would have made it through.
To Pat: I love you, man.