‘Complicated grief’, previously known as ‘traumatic grief’, is a condition that arrests the sufferer’s ability to function appropriately in society. (Hensley, Clayton. 2008) It usually manifests itself as anger, disbelief, preoccupation with the deceased, and/or avoidance of reminders of the deceased. It is the latter ability to avoid loss that sits at the heart of my research interests.
Through practice-led research I aspire to detail a practical and theoretical exploration of the role of erasure in dealing with complicated grief. My initial pathway into research, Derrida’s Aporias (1993), considers the personal psychological implications of death (spectres and ghosts) and this supports the kind of absent-presence I have often attempted in my own photographs. On the other hand, Derrida recognises the broader societal issues involved – ‘there is no politics of death’ he writes, as if loss of life is itself without prefix, without cultural mediation. (Derrida, 1993: 59). On this basis my research project creatively exploits the ‘compromised sense of purpose, significance, security, and control’ of bereaved individuals.’ (Neimeyer, et al. 2002: 241)
I am investigating how grief and avoidance impact upon, and motivate, the production of artworks that themselves manifest ‘compromised purpose’ through technical or procedural erasure. Given my emphasis on personal loss I am concerned with the tensions between public and private knowledge within practices that currently explore audio recordings of data transfer (voice, handwriting, typing), visualisations of voice sound waves, and obscuring of text.
This compromising of information illustrates the absent-presence that engages my current research project and addresses the impact complicated grief has on decisions within my studio practice. I strive to create a sensation of something lost, not found but almost there: an indexical trace of moments and memories left to me. This becomes the trace of complicated grief: a practical exploration of erasure.
 Delespaux, E. et al.. (2013). Attachment and severity of grief: the mediating role of negative appraisal and inflexible coping. Omega: journal of death and dying. 67 (3), 269-290.
 Shear, M. K.. (2010). Exploring the role of experiential avoidance from the perspective of attachment theory and the dual process model. Omega: journal of death and dying. 61 (4), 357-370.
 Hensley, P. & Clayton, P. J. (2008) “Bereavement-Related Depression”. Psychiatric Times. Available online at: http://www.psychiatrictimes.com/articles/bereavement-related-depression [Accessed: 27 Feb 2014]
 Derrida, J. (1993) Aporias. Stanford, CA: Stanford Press.
 Neimeyer, R. A., et al. (2002) “Mourning and Meaning”. American Behavioral Scientist. 46 (2), 235-251