Healing after trauma and distress is a long and often arduous path but life can begin anew and photographer Aldona Kmiec has created a striking exhibition celebrating the strength of survivors.
In The Process of Healing is an installation of still and moving images and sound, telling stories of survival in response to stories of institutional abuse, suicide and shattered lives across the Ballarat community.
Her large prints, displayed on fabric, reflect the process of healing that comes after suffering and distress.
“My vision is to document the invisible lives, drowned by society’s attempts to maintain normalcy through keeping their eyes shut, pretending that lives don’t exist, referring to them as numbers.
“As a minority, I too share the mark of the unknown. In my artistic journey I show that coming from a place that is foreign to many, doesn’t mean one cannot achieve.”
Ms Kmiec has created the exhibition with sound specifically for installation at the Ballarat Welcome Centre, formerly the Sacred Heart Convent.
“The sound will surround you while you walk through the exhibition. There’s two sounds in two different rooms, one room with the fabric images and a second room will have a central sculptural piece.
“It’s an exhibition I haven’t tried before. It’s a new way to express what I’m working with … in a less traditional way that responds to the specific building and connects the visual with the story.
“The building has its own atmosphere which will hopefully connect with people on a more subliminal level.”
Ms Kmiec has also drawn inspiration from the building’s current use as the Ballarat Regional Multicultural Council’s Welcome Centre.
Her goal with the exhibition is to remove the stigma around trauma and normalise conversations that are difficult. “I want to reiterate that it’s worth learning to talk about trauma, learning how to recognise and deal with emotions and not hold back.
“So many people have been affected either directly or indirectly by stories of sex abuse of children not just in Australia but all over the world. It’s in our community and I think finding a way to move forward and learning how to talk about difficult subjects is helpful and I hope this exhibition will … make people think about it.”
The exhibition is part of the Ballarat International Foto Biennale, which runs from August 19 to September 17.