Lynn Schirmer
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Dec 9, 2014 Lynn Schirmer commented on The Torture Report Confirms That the United States Is Even More Monstrous Than We Suspected.
Thank you @5 and @8 for daring to mention that none of this is an aberration. From Wikipedia, which is no great source on the subject, but at least contains this entry: “In the 21st century, many of the torture techniques developed in the MKULTRA studies and other programs are being used at U.S. military and CIA prisons such as Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib.[128][133] In the aftermath of the Congressional hearings, major news media mainly focused on sensationalistic stories related to LSD, "mind-control", and "brainwashing", and rarely used the word "torture". This suggested that CIA researchers were, as one author put it "a bunch of bumbling sci-fi buffoons", rather than a rational group of men who had run torture laboratories and medical experiments in major U.S. universities; they had arranged for torture, rape and psychological abuse of adults and young children, driving many of them permanently insane.”



I am survivor of US torture, beginning in the 1960’s. I am still recovering from the torture I was subjected to throughout my childhood and periodically as an adult, at a number of facilities across the country. I am one of thousands of known survivors, with more coming forward everyday, many of whom are in their early twenties, so we know the programs continue to this day. Torture may not work as an interrogation technique, but it is highly effective in conditioning behavior and inducing predictable states of amnesia. Consider how valuable being able to induce amnesia might be to a criminal network, or a spy agency. A rather impressive group of researchers and survivors attempted to set up a truth commission in 2010, but we were strong armed out of existence within a month of our first press release. Sadly, it may be that yet another generation suffers before any of these ongoing torture programs are exposed.
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Nov 9, 2012 Lynn Schirmer commented on Taking Whatshertits to Another Level: Ben Beres's Print Is Cut from a Show at Cornish.
I think the piece could have made its point, and perhaps in some ways more effectively, if 108 male artist names were paired with the breasts, and avoided the attending controversy.

I respect that Cornish as an institution needs to keep clear boundaries drawn against potential sexual harassment. As an outsider, I don't feel entitled to comment on whether the piece does constitute harassment. This isn't a simple case of censoring nudity.

For whatever it's worth, I viewed Beres' piece as a male confession, and a challenge to examine how the simple classification aspect of the Elle's exhibits reinforces male hegemony and objectification.
Oct 15, 2012 Lynn Schirmer commented on Loose Lips.
Congratulations Paul Rucker! Just a small correction however, the Conductive Garboil Grant is administered by 4Culture and Artist Trust, with the assistance of the late artist Su Job's personal representative. It's another unique feature of this truly unique grant program.
Jul 27, 2012 Lynn Schirmer commented on A Clash of Personalities.
Imagine if someone took a few facts about your life and wrapped an entirely false narrative around them, making you out to be something that you never were, and destroying your reputation. This is what Debbie Nathan, in her book "Sybil Exposed", has done to three extraordinary women, Shirley Mason, Dr. Cornelia Wilbur, and Flora Schreiber, all of whom are now dead and cannot defend themselves, and her motives are far from pure.

If I wished to be as unfair and unflattering as she, I could take the facts of Nathan's work and her professional affiliations and weave a far more damning narrative around them, suggesting some rather nefarious connections and motives.

A few facts:
As recently as October, 2011 Nathan was listed as a board member of an organization that gives $100,000 a year to the legal defense funds of convicted pedophiles, including Father Paul Shanley, the most notorious figure in Boston's Catholic Church sexual abuse scandal.
Child pornography and domestic child trafficking are mutli-billion dollar businesses. There are networks of people who have high stakes in keeping survivors silenced and out of treatment. Confusing the public about the natural responses to repeated and ongoing sexual trauma, like multiple personality, and engendering distrust of trauma therapists, are integral to those aims.

Must I even construct the narrative at this point? It doesn't look pretty.

The reviewer freely admits that Nathan is making interpretations and engaging in conjecture, but then she accepts Nathan's central "interpretations" as valid. Let me suggest a different interpretation of the Wilbur's statements. She made them based on her desire that the public rediscover and appreciate multiple personality as a powerful, natural defense against extreme trauma. She wished to bring to light a case of extreme abuse and show it is a reality. She wished to help lessen the stigma leveled at her patient. I can make these inferences because I know people who knew both Mason and Wilbur and these are closer to what fueled their ambition.

What's most stunning about this review, however, is that it promotes Nathan's most damaging thesis: that multiple personality is a fad.

Multiple personality disorder, or Dissociative Identity Disorder, as it is now named (DID for short) is not a modern phenomenon. Cases of DID were first described in Western medicine in the 18th century. It was a major focus of study for the father of modern psychiatry, and various individual cases have come to public prominence over the last two centuries, one of which is the case of Mary Reynolds in the 1860's. References to analogous behavior and symptom clusters, such as demon possession in Christian lore, appear across cultures and eras throughout human history.

As to the science behind it, which any critic must ignore or discount in order to affect an opposition, I like to quote Dr. Richard Loewenstein, "This empirical base includes clinical case studies, series studies with structured interview data; studies of phenomenology, prevalence, memory, hypnotizability, neurobiology, imaging, and psychophysiology; and psychological assessment profiles, among others. These studies include samples of children and adolescents and cross-cultural samples from North America, Europe, Latin America, Turkey, and Asia."

That's right, it's cross-cultural. It's also been verified with neuro-imaging. As Kathy Steel puts it, “I mean, there isn’t [a] way for a fad to show up, I think, on a functional MRI or on a PET scan.”

An estimated 1-3% of the population has DID. As a member of that group, I can attest that we are already marginalized, stigmatized, and often silenced, by a variety of forces and actors, including the sensationalistic media, and former traffickers, perpetrators, and their allies. Attacks on DID are harmful, especially those offered casually, without reasonable argument or reference to opposition, and in informal contexts like a book review. These attacks seek to shift social consensus, in this case, away from the truth. At best they contribute to stigma and denial and keep the focus shifted from stopping perpetrators to questioning survivors by adding another level of discrediting "crazy" to the milieu.

I have to wonder, were Ms. Datz and her editors completely blind to these impacts or was that what motivated them? It wouldn't be fair to conjecture.

Lynn Schirmer
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Aug 29, 2009 Lynn Schirmer commented on Yoko Ono's People Give Seattle Artist the Smackdown.
If your interactive work has limitations on what kind of interactivity is possible, include those in the instructions. Unfortunately, the outcome of Mae's involvement only embroils us in the inanities of a dysfunctional bureaucracy, a far too common and exceedingly annoying occurrence to people who are capable of thinking in a linear manner, hence the comments about contemporary art. To me that is a failure on Ono's part, but then again it's not in her best interest to get near causing Darling to lose face. The letter both dances this dance and neglects to take a concrete stand on the issue in general.

It's an interactive piece. There are so many possible interpretations of the instruction "hammer a nail". I'd like to see audiences get a little more creative, if only to relieve the boredom.
Aug 27, 2009 Lynn Schirmer commented on Currently Hanging.
I am so glad that James has caught your attention. His figurative work is compelling and moving on many levels and rendered with great skill. His political work goes into rarely charted territory. His large scale drawing "Party" is a visceral representation of Mark Lombardi type intersections.