In 1992, Tran T. Kim-Trang came across a New York Times article about a group of hysterically blind Cambodian women in Long Beach, California, known as the largest group of such people in the world. Hysterical blindness is sight loss brought about by traumatic stress, and has little or no physical causes. ekleipsis delves into two histories: the history of hysteria and the Cambodian civil war. Weaving together texts of these histories along with a composite case study of some of the hysterically blind Cambodian women and the artist’s mother, ekleipsis speaks about the somatization of pain and loss. The video also expresses the inspiration found in these ascendant personalities—those who develop the incredible will to survive traumatic events and utilize their experiences to reflect on, and live life in positive ways.
ekleipsis is part of Trang’s The Blindness Series, which consists of eight short videos that investigate blindness and metaphors. Topics of individual titles include cosmetic surgery of the eyelids, vision and sexuality, video surveillance, hysterical blindness, alexia or word-blindness, and physical blindness. The series examines instrumental vision while offering a different kind of visuality, a haptic visuality. Stylistically, Tran’s critical approach to video art is essayistic, theoretical, and politically engaged.