Why do we make art that symbolises our own sufferings?

By Alfredo Violante Widmer

Share: Share:

‘Come Upstairs’ is a song about living with and caring for Sarah. She lives with chronic depression and generalised anxiety disorder to this day. It’s me begging her not to give up on herself. It helps us amplify and study our pain today so that we can look to a better tomorrow. What else should I be writing about?

The myth of the tortured artist is perpetual. So many of our musical heroes share tales of lived tragedy and struggle. It’s a fantastic thing that such hardships can be captured like lightning in a shoebox, memories distilled and catalogued into the archives of music history. Maybe this is what draws both audiences and creatives alike to study those that refuse to produce dishonest work with admiration. We are eager to understand those who choose to bare all and to narrate their lives through art in the purest way.

Why do we make art that symbolises our own sufferings? Why do we relive these tiny moments that we tell people that we’d prefer to forget?

Sarah and I write candid songs about our own experience with mental health and create DIY music videos to try and encapsulate the intention behind the music. I see this as creative catharsis – we choose to relive these fragments to be able to study them and educate ourselves on what we could have done better. This can, in turn, inform and guide us in our present situation.

What better way to help others to understand the unknowable than present them with unflinchingly intimate details?

For those who struggle to make sense of their own minds, the pain is palpable. Sometimes the only way to help others understand the plight is to be blunt, harsh and uncompromising. It’s uncomfortable to see, but without candid depictions of mental illness, how is anyone outside of our household expected to comprehend it? It has taken many years of struggling, learning, suffering, to feel comfortable in sharing these intimacies that have for so many years been considered taboo. What we need is to be encouraged to listen without passing judgement or fear and be encouraged to ask those seemingly terrifying questions, to normalise these difficult conversations.

Stay in touch with In Earnest: