Meg Matko's durational performance and time-based rendering, Secret Condition | Adhesion
, this Saturday from 3 p.m. to approximately 8:30 p.m. at Current Cleveland inside the 78th Street Studios is a call to action and love note to women and people who suffer from "secret" reproductive disorders.
“The umbrella title for this project, Secret Condition, stems from the notion that reproductive disorders affecting women and people with a uterus, ovaries, cervix are often kept ‘secret’ by the people suffering,” said Matko. “Globally, we are still not having an open dialogue about endometriosis, adenomyosis, miscarriage, infertility, premature ovarian insufficiency, etc., despite the conditions being incredibly common.”
Matko lives with endometriosis, adenomyosis, secondary miscarriage, infertility, TTC and premature ovarian insufficiency and she considers Secret Condition to be both a sharing of her own experiences and a participatory public work. In her work, she aims to confront viewers with a penetrating portrayal of the struggle, fatigue, tediousness and resiliency of living with these conditions.
During the performance, the artist’s pelvic area will be bound in a plaster gauze cast, which she will painstakingly remove using only her hands and body. The press release says that Adhesion is simultaneously a meditation and a suffocating barrier.
“The project is intended to be somewhat confrontational, while also opening up space for dialogue and contemplation around reproductive disorders and feminine bodies. Encountering a body in space, engaged in an unusual or complicated posture can be uncomfortable, unnerving and powerful,” said Matko. “As the viewer, how do you hold your own body in this space? How do you silently or physically engage? Do you avoid your own response? In my work, the line between art/artist and viewer is often blurred; the engagement is uncontrolled. There is no planned outcome or process. I invite viewers to challenge themselves in what they’re observing and try moving past the discomfort and strangeness.”
The second piece in the project, Transvaginal, involves Matko traversing for three miles with a weighted object transfixed to her vaginal area, walking roughly from CSU to the Cleveland Clinic main campus. Matko is inviting people to walk with her. The walk is scheduled to take place in late June and people will be able to sign up soon once her website is finished with development at www.secretcondition.wordpress.com
“This piece is largely a gesture and comment on the medical industry at large; a message that we will not and cannot be ignored and will act as a reminder to continue to improving care practices for reproductive disorders,” said Matko. “The CCF represents an internationally renowned medical presence so it’s more of a symbol in this case rather than a direct demand from the Clinic. In fact, the team of doctors I work with for my disorders are all Cleveland Clinic providers, so I’ve been very grateful for their care. The Secret Condition site will house a list of resources for those searching for support, including Clinic providers. So again, this is not an attack on or demand from the Cleveland Clinic but a broader commentary.”
There has been limited research and treatment options for individuals with these disorders which can induce chronic, physical and psychological pain and may result in many holding their conditions in silence and forgoing care.
“One in 10 women alone suffers from endometriosis in the U.S. But it takes one person an average of 12 years to receive an accurate diagnosis; so, the actual count is likely even higher with many people going undiagnosed,” said Matko. “Our culture is still assigning stigma to these debilitating, legitimate medical conditions, leaving us to manage the diseases in secret or from a place where we aren’t making others uncomfortable with our pain. I’m really grateful to have the platform and privilege to present this work publicly; thank you to SPACES, Current Cleveland and the Warhol Foundation and all of the friends and family who have been there to support me through my health issues. Being a supporter, caregiver, listener is heavy and I’m endlessly appreciative.”
Matko, after graduating from Kent in 2006 with a bachelor’s in Fine Arts, worked many jobs to support herself as an artist until beginning her work in Arts Administration. She is currently the Community Relations Manager for the Assembly for the Arts. Secret Condition is supported by The Satellite Fund, administered by SPACES and funded by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts Regional Regranting Program.
It is of note that the day before this event, Friday, April 1st from 6-10 pm Current Cleveland will also host the opening for Alaska: Working in Bristol Bay by Alison Alsup and Ronald Jackson III.