'We don't have a language for suicide. What's peculiar about taboos and inhibitions is that they silence us.'
(Notes on Suicide, Simon Critchley, Fitzcarraldo Editions, 2015)
The Suicide Chronicles is an ongoing project emerging from Baa Baa Baric: Have You Any Pull? by Mark Storor with the communities of St Helens, it is a long-term artistic questioning of civilisation as our most brutal act of barbarism.
St Helens, which has one of the highest rates of suicide in the UK, is a town emblematic of a devastating national trend. But it could also be the town which is prepared to collectively take this on, to find a language and a model of practice that doesn’t exist in British society at the moment so that we may together address what is happening to our communities.
The conditions of late capitalism have dealt a damaging assault on what is important here and now, in terms of how people live, and how communities come together to nurture and support one another to lead emotionally, spiritually, psychologically, and philosophically healthy lives. Ultimately, The Suicide Chronicles asks: What is important? How are we responsible to each other? What kind of world do we want to live in? And how do we hold one another within it?
Each Chronicle takes focus on one individual story or one particular aspect of suicide ensuring that the work is sharp, vivid and truthful. In coming together, the collective Chronicles work in dialogue with each other, giving form to the infinitely complex and multi-layered nature of suicide.
Chronicle One: Grief
Joanne Lynne, Angela Samata and Lisa Vint with Mark Storor (2019), 3-channel digital colour video with sound, single-channel digital colour video with sound, digital photographic prints.
Suicide can be a very public death whilst simultaneously an intense private experience for those who grieve. In Chronicle One: Grief, three women reclaim this experience and give an audience public access to a private world. The piece takes the form of filmed and photographed actions performed by Joanne Lynne, Angela Samata, and Lisa Vint. Capturing a moment in the journey of bereavement, the women offer us an essence of their experience through self-determined action. Each action is particular and unique to the individual woman, but together form facets within a landscape of the collective experience of grief.
Created through a year-long collaboration, Chronicle One: Grief has been a process of coming together to discuss, to make sense, to collectively express the unsayable.
Chronicle Two: Stand Firm Compassion
Cheryl, Daniel, Darren, David, Emma, Gayle, Heather, Kieran and Rob with Mark Storor (2020), single-channel digital colour video installation with sound, digital photographic prints.
Chronicle Two: Stand Firm Compassion is made at a time where in society we cannot hide from the devastating effect of the systematic deconstruction of the caring society and the decimation of the caring professions through chronic underfunding.
Created pre pandemic, Stand Firm Compassion is a meditation on what it is be a professional carer, a first responder working in this context. It brings into sharp relief the human cost not only to the people in their care, some of whom take their own lives, but over a period of time the effect it has on the workers themselves.
Post lockdown many of us are grieving. Our ability to continue to care is vital.
For more information about The Suicide Chronicles please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Samaritans: 116123 A safe place for you to talk anytime (24h, free).
Papyrus: 0800 068 41 41 Prevention of Young Suicide (free & confidential).
AMPARO: 0330 088 9255 Support for anyone affected by suspected or actual suicide.
Shout: text 85258 The UK’s first text support for anyone in crisis, anywhere, anytime.