Misophonia by Megan Hazell at The Island Bristol Review

Misophonia by Megan Hazell
The Island
Bristol
10/04/2018

There was curious little pomp for Megan Hazell’s Misophonia exhibition at The Island, an art event that hit sufferers exactly where it hurts such was its accuracy.

Our first fail was in attending the exhibition with an autistic person who spent one minute inside before leaving with extreme nausea.

Misophonia occurs when sounds trigger an emotional response – usually anger, disgust or revulsion.

The sound of people eating and sucking is a particularly typical sound which garners an extreme reaction.

Chewing, slurping, sucking and loudly masticating in public.  Slow-walking fake Ugg boot scuffing or breathing too loudly on the bus . These publicly made noises will make those with misophonia keen to bash your brains out.

Megan Hazell’s exhibition was an immersive one. It takes the pretty things of every day life captured through film and photography and connects them with audio that makes you want to murder.

It’s not painfully loud, it’s those tiny, everyday sounds that pound a sufferers brain. The tapping of nails, emery boards, nerve jarring mobile key taps. Sticky bacteria ridden chewing gum on pink bananas. On long pile fur fabric.

The role women play, our expectations and those which society also demands was photographed in stark, uncomfortable contrast.

But with all the sounds, all the annoyance, perhaps the most tense works were the photograph of a well groomed woman about to bite into a pink iced doughnut. Or, the one with the sharp manicured nails caught in mid tap by camera. These are tense moments, the sounds don’t come, they are left suspended and delayed like a gripping movie that ends without resolution.

The idea behind the collection was to connect the ‘aesthetically pleasing’ with the ‘intrusive’. But, what the artist has also done is to create the perfect way to communicate difficulties faced by people with sensory sensitivities – which includes misophonia – and highlights some of the everyday difficulties people on the autistic spectrum face when dealing with the wider public. And that’s a pretty impressive achievement.

 

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