The Presence of Absence

Cheesecloth, wax paper, textile stiffening medium, clear plastic line, graphite, LED rope light and plaster cast.




The Presence of Absence depicts the layering of bodily presence. This piece invites an internal attentiveness to one’s woundedness that releases into a place of healing. The depth of layers evokes fullness  – their transparent fragility allows light to pass through the damaged surfaces. The negative of the face gives presence in the seeming emptiness as the human form is abstracted through layers and light. The viewer is invited to enter into the space and pass through the circular interior layers, drawing the viewer to the centre light source. The light is diffused through the organic pillar of cheesecloth and permeates to the outer layers.

The notion of absence communicates loss and the sense of trauma. The mind, which is brittle, transient, and yet full of substance, causes reality to mutate. Psychologist, Carl Rogers describes the recovery from trauma as a shift of self-perception – that how people perceive themselves must come from unconditional positive regard. The apparent absence discovers fullness as time heals the wound. Presence and absence are fundamental to the human form.

Artist, Marina Abramovic alludes to the ‘suchness’ created through the body’s negative space on a blank sheet of white paper. Abramovic invests in art that requires something of the viewer – she states how the interaction with artwork changes peoples’ perceptions.

This contemplative piece, The Presence of Absence, invites space for healing prayer.  The phenomenal immersive (visual, aural, intellectual, and sensory) bodily experience shifts the perception of the body and how the viewer interacts with the space. The immersive experience evokes a meditative and mindful experience of self.

Inaudible murmurs of sound suggest a subtly shifting interiority and a meditative practice of repetition; the word ‘nothing’ evolves into its counterpart, ‘something’. Multiple voices create depth: the layering of the cheesecloth correlates with the layering of voices. They create, through their unity, a presence in seeming emptiness.