Dominique Knowles, Jason Lazarus, Mev Luna, Liz Nielsen, Rachel Schmidhofer, Siebren Versteeg, Jeremy Weber
Andrew Rafacz Gallery
January 10 – February 22, 2020
Lazarus’ site-specific installation for Empathy Fatigue at Andrew Rafacz Gallery is a distilled meeting of two new and still-developing long-form projects, “2019-Present (Sound Screens)” and “a bibliography”, both projects hinging on a device known as the ‘sound screen.’
2019-Present (Sound Screens)
Empathy Fatigue publicly debuts a growing archive by Lazarus of sound screen machines typically used by mental health workers to sonically mask and protect private conversations. Marketed as ‘sound screens,’ they often sit outside closed treatment room doors and, when on, not only delineate a treatment space, but also signal a session underway to passersby.
Lazarus, originally trained as a photographer in the early 2000s, sees them as deeply poignant. Just one of many implications, Lazarus seems them akin to a darkroom’s reddish hued ‘safelight’ and when on, a surrogate for a subject–mental health–largely unphotographable, deeply personal, and yet widely public in scope and implication.
The devices in this growing collection are, for the artist, surrogates for ongoing conversations of those in treatment, and surrogates for those not privileged to access treatment they may desperately need. The archive of sound screen machines, and its potential for increasingly monumental installations, asks for, among other things, imagination and solidarity for mental health treatment not as a private healthcare benefit, but a human right.
Sound Screen (an excerpt from ‘a bibliography’)
…at 43, i started to see a therapist for the first time in many years, i think partially for issues related to my disability, middle-age, politics, chronic pain, relationships, a deep loneliness…Dr. M’s office is embedded in a sad(dening) strip mall surrounded by dislocating forest 25 minutes west of home–i consider it an island and can’t place it well on a real map, but yes, certainly on an emotional map.
outside her office door, when i arrive too early, there is a small circular device (imagine a slightly off-white home fire alarm set on the floor pointed up) nestled where the bottom of her door meets office carpet–an electrical (umbilical) cord powers an unending white noise. after weeks of waiting to ask about it, Dr. M suggests i search sound screen on amazon–non-looping white noise machines, including the model i’m fixated on, appear–i’ve been modestly sonically protected it appears for weeks. i order the same model as Dr. M’s as a kind of muse, then a week later, i order three more. they are all on right now as i write this. I think the first one i ordered is for me. the other three I ordered, and the others i will order in the future, are to create, first, a choir, then more, for a collective swell–these are all meant for others, both real and imagined…
Started in September 2019, a bibliography is a growing, episodic text concerned with disability, sex, language, desire, and power. Each passage corresponds to a ceramic vessel, and vice versa.
Andrew Rafacz Gallery / Empathy Fatigue
documentation by Useful Art Services