Loss of Identity - Nesreen Galal 

September 8th, 2022

“In this art performance, I am putting makeup on myself, which then transforms into static noise.

I shift between being expressionless or crying, representing the idea of loss in an abstract way, and the feeling of not knowing who I am and being trapped in my own body.

I am someone who struggles with OCD—  a disease notorious for inciting self-doubt and imposter syndrome. I am also culturally mixed (Syrian & Egyptian) which creates confusion within my identity. I look Syrian but don’t speak like one, and I sound Egyptian but don’t look like one. To complicate my identity further, I lived in Kuwait for the first thirteen years of my life but have never identified with Kuwaiti culture.

In this piece, I sought to evoke rawness by choosing a more minimalistic style while still balancing eerie and surrealistic tones. The background blends periodically with my figure and the noises of static symbolize the void and emptiness. An old rotary phone can be heard trying to call myself, yet being met with the message that “this number is no longer in service”.

Throughout this performance I use the repetition of specific actions to represent the tendencies that stem from my OCD.  I apply makeup over and over again in a physical manifestation of my intrusive OCD thoughts. The action becomes ritualistic and demonstrates my attempts to reduce the anxiety I feel, resulting in a major loss of time and control. The repetitive actions of my OCD coincide with and are further exasperated by my feelings of identity theft and depersonalization. This piece therefore explores all these aspects of my being: my mental health, my cultural identity, and in this view it helps me heal and navigate these negative feelings while contextualizing my concept of belonging.”

An undergraduate
feminist art & art history