The title of the exhibition is adapted from the French word blessé meaning injured or wounded. The idea of wounding as a transformative measure,which becomes the exhibition's central theme, draws references from Bernini's 16th century marble sculpture Saint Teresa in Ecstasy, and explores the subtext of the Greek myth of Psyche and Eros.
Bernini's Saint Teresa is clothed from head to foot in a loose hooded garment - head thrown back, with eyes half-closed and mouth falling open, as she swoons in ecstasy. Standing beside her is the figure of a winged youth, who holds in his right hand an arrow that is pointed at the heart of Teresa. Belonging to the tradition of mystical experience known as bridal mysticism - in which the soul is awakened to spiritual passion - this narrative, according to the
The Archive for Research in Archetypal Symbolism,
can be linked to the story of Psyche and Eros, through the idea of wounding as a process towards a psychical and spiritual union.
According to Greek mythology, the goddess Aphrodite - jealous of the fabled beauty of a young mortal woman named Psyche - persuades her son Eros (Cupid) to use one of his arrows to ensure that when the sleeping Psyche awakens, she will fall in love with a vile creature. While undertaking the task in the darkness Eros accidentally scratches himself with one of his own arrows causing him to fall in love with Psyche. He cannot complete the mission assigned by his mother, and instead has Psyche removed to a distant place,where he visits her only at night, telling her that he wants to keep his identity secret. Although Psyche is initially happy with these nocturnal liaisons, her curiosity eventually leads her to attempt to uncover the identity of her lover, while he is sleeping. Under the candle light Psyche discovers that her lover is in fact a beautiful god, and is so stunned that she accidentally pricks herself with one of his arrows, and falls even more deeply in love with him. In her flurry of passion, hot wax from the candle falls on him causing Eros to awake, and realising that she has betrayed their pact, Eros flees. After a long and painful period of estrangement, she is finally reunited with Eros, having submitted to a series of tests issued by Aphrodite.
In these narratives the suffering and wounding caused by the arrow's wound is of the greatest significance. For Teresa, the moment in which she experiences the spiritual wound (at the hands of an Eros figure) is one that culminates in a transcendent state of spiritual ecstasy, while for Eros and Psyche the wounding in the story occurs on many levels, but ultimately allows Psyche to awaken from the darkness of unconscious illusion. Psychologist Erich Neumann states that; 'Psyche cannot truly love Eros in the dark. As Psyche, she requires vision. Her desire to see results in suffering, but also in real love.' For Christine Downing, 'the story implies an encounter with the dark but not abandonment to it, the release from narcissism and from a single vision'. In a Jungian sense it relates to the notion of individuation and the integration of the masculine and feminine in the human psyche.
In this exhibition the multiple layers of wounding are explored in the sculpture and video piece Double Wounding, in which two arrows are shot into a life-sized torso (my own), sculpted from wax. Pain has been inflicted from without, as well as from within, implying that in a psychological sense we do this to ourselves. Chosen for its qualities of tactility, malleability and fragility, the wax medium is also an allusion to the myth of Psyche and Eros - pertinent to this performative wounding of the flèche in the flesh.
Dripping paint - analogous to tears or a bleeding wound -becomes a leitmotif in the exhibition. In the Teresa images, for example, the drips stream in a Baroque excess or bleed like an enamel stigmata. The analogy could be made to human tears, where a build up or an excess, of joy or pain, may lead us to weep.It is a deep and intense drama for Psyche, Eros, and Teresa, but one that in each case leads them to a desired and longed for union. There is a perverse blessing through this process in the unraveling and expansion of the self, but one that continues to reveal the many colours of the human heart.
James Cochran, 2010
 Psyche is then made immortal and marries Eros, and goes on to give birth to their daughter named Joy.
 Neumann, Erich. Amor and Psyche, the Psychic Development of the Feminine: A Commentary on the Tale by Apuleius, New York: Mythos Books, 1956. For further reading see The Archive for Research in Archetypal Symbolism (online)
Christine Downing, Towards An Erotics of the Psyche
 Flèche is the French word for arrow
Metaphorically paint can weep or bleed like a wound,and with spray paint an excess of paint in one area will cause the paint to run or bleed in this way.
Return to Blessé(d) exhibition