laia abril exhibition on mass hysteria photo elysee musee lausanne
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August 8, 2023
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"On Mass Hysteria", Laia Abril, Lastest Exhibition

Laia Abril, nominated in 2019 for the Prix Elysée for her project "On Mass Hysteria" is back in Lausanne with a raging yet touching ode to Women. With a precise, almost surgical approach, she describes what it takes to live through global trauma, common violence, shining lights on the extent of generational trauma in communities

Laia Abril is a Spanish artist, born in 1986 in Barcelona. She uses photography, archival documents, and multimedia to create socially engaged projects tied to feminist issues and imbued with sociological, historical, and anthropological considerations. She’s been positively loud when displaying her works on issues regarding the treatment of the body in general, the woman’s body in particular . From self inflicted pain, eating disorders, sexual assault, rape, abortion or menstruation, she keeps working on subjects that are politically engaged. Despite her background in journalism and her love for historical archives, her approach remains extremely human and sensible. She tells stories with taste, talent and humanity, always keeping warmth and emotion as a center focus point.

Her long terms projects focus on transgenerational trauma, and the re-writing or uncovering of women’s history. « On Mass Hysteria » is a chapter from her larger scale project  « A History of Misogyny », and was nominated for the Prix Elysée in 2019. The project is now showcased at the Elysée Museum of Photography in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Mass hysteria, also known as collective hysteria, refers to a phenomenon in which a group of individuals, often sharing a common social or environmental context, experience a range of physical or psychological symptoms that are perceived to be caused by a specific condition or event.

Using exemples such as the Salem Witch Trials, uncontrollable laughing attacks in Mexico, Afghan teenage girls experiencing fainting outbreaks ans so much more, Laia Abril gives a new take on the causes and effects of global trauma among women and young girls. The project challenges the dominant medical and psychological approach regarding unexplained events, which blames these women for illnesses that medicine cannot explain, and emphasizes the impact of societal factors such as social and political oppression, exploring ancient female protest, passed down through generations.

With Abril’s take on the subject, hysteria becomes a  common ground for women from all generations. With the never-ending patronizing and pathologizing of women, the artist illuminates collective suffering, make global violence visible, and reclaim a sense of identity.

30.06 – 01.10.2023

Laia Abril's 'Mass Hysteria' at Musée de l'Élysée, Lausanne.

Images by Laia Abril, courtesy Galerie Les Filles du Calvaire


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