Live Virtual Group Session: 12pm EDT July 1st 2020

Thank you to everyone who joined us for this session!

Together we closely looked at the painting Historias de Nuestros Condominios (Stories of our Condos) by Ignacio Iturria, posted below. After a brief moment of silence, during which we centered ourselves in preparation for our close viewing exercise, we all turned our focus to the painting. One participant noted how viewing the painting was like reading a book: each of the “characters” in the windows opened into a story, the painting uniting them all, allowing us to move from one narrative to the other. This participant even noted that there is a dividing line down the center of the painting, like the split between pages of a book. Another viewer was struck by the way the painting’s composition creates patterns of repetition and variation that organize all of the characters who exist in the structure. Many participants found the “mood” of the painting to be “devastating,” or “sad,” with one participant noting that they felt “sucked into a vortex of suffering” and another describing it as a “scene of destruction.” Participants also commented on the “texture” of the painting, one viewer sharing that it looked like “unfinished cement.” Another viewer was struck by the “scratches” in the paint, which almost convey the sense of a giant controlling the scene, reminding them of Foucault’s panopticon. This same viewer went on to share that the 4th wall had been removed–that there was a “element of voyeurism” in viewing the painting.

Following our close viewing of the painting, we responded to the prompt, “Write about a neighbor,” which evoked a wide array of narratives. One person recalled being welcomed to a new neighborhood with a plate of cookies that were delivered by the grandmother of a patient from nine years earlier, and we felt the surprise of reconnection. We also noticed a move from the distanced clinical language of diagnosis at the beginning to the sensory warmth of the baked goods at the end, while the nine years between the two encounters remained a black hole for us and for the clinician. Another writer also began with a woman’s physical ailment – in this case, gangrene – and then shifted to the action of daughters pinching and pruning before returning to the mother, now looking out to the sky. One participant noticed how a sad story had still managed to evoke nice memories for him personally. A third writer wrote about her neighbors Luminance and Silence, and the parallel growth in the back yard and in the mind. We remarked on the pairing of the visual (Luminance) and the aural (Silence), and how we can compare thoughts to congealed sunlight. Our last writer had a different take on silence, considering the path or paths to salvation. We were reminded of how of late the media have been telling so many stories of immigrants, but we will never know the outcome of those stories; the comment recalled an observation on the first response, about those patients whose outcomes remain a mystery to the clinicians who treat them.

Participants are warmly encouraged to share what you wrote below (“Leave a Reply”), to keep the conversation going here, bearing in mind that the blog of course is a public space where confidentiality is not assured.

Also, we would love to learn more about your experience of these sessions, so if you’re able, please take the time to fill out a follow-up survey of one to two quick questions!

Please join us for our next session Monday, July 6th at 6pm EDT, with more times listed on our Live Virtual Group Sessions page.

We look forward to seeing you again soon!

Historias de Nuestros Condominios (Stories of our Condos)
Ignacio Iturria (b. 1949, Montevideo, Uruguay)