Pictures of Self-Harm Still
Pictures of Self-Harm Still
Pictures of Self-Harm Still
Pictures of Self-Harm Still
Pictures of Self-Harm Still

Pictures of Self-Harm
(2008) 20 minutes

Pictures of Self-harm is an intense and frank look at the disturbing action of self-damage and the social response to it.
Pictures of Self-Harm was produced out of a five year exploration by Crossing Communities Art Project, artists, sociologists, prison guards, the Elizabeth Fry Society, medical practitioners, and women who self-harm. The women in the project used video cameras to portray and reflect on their drug addictions, cutting, the sex trade/sexual exploitation, and eating disorders. They give us an unblinking look at what is more often seen as shocking and more commonly responded to with denial. They pose direct questions to people on the street about public perceptions of self-harm and its place in our society.
Darcie talks courageously about her motivation for self-harm, "I cut to cope, not to kill."
Tonya speaks about her self-harm, ending her presentation with the statements that "I feel I am on an installment plan for suicide" and "I will die out there."
In the video, academics, correctional staff , medical personnel, and counselors look for answers to what is happening and how to deal with this very difficult primal response to deep-seated pain and trauma. It is a situation that is reaching epidemic proportions in marginalized populations.
If art is a language and self-harm is a language, can one replace the other? That was the question that initiated the Pictures of Self-Harm project. Women who came to Crossing Communities art studios were saying that making art met some of the same needs as self-harm. This aligned with the findings of the report by Dr. Cathy Fillmore and Dr. Colleen Dell for the Elizabeth Fry Society, "Prairie Women Violence and Self-Harm," where criminalized women stated that one of the main reasons that they self-harmed was to communicate.
Pictures of Self-Harm is part of Crossing Communities' ten year history of investigating art as social change, exploring how art intersects with sociology, medical practices, government, education, civic responsibility and prisons to engage a social response to the marginalization and increasing incarceration of women and children.

Dr. Cathy Fillmore and Dr. Colleen Dell partnered with Crossing Communities throughout the production of Pictures of Self-Harm. Their collaborative research on self-harm is available for download from the following links.

Fact Sheet Self-Harm Among Criminalized Women PDF Document
Prepared by Dr.Colleen Dell, Senior Research Associate Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse and Tara Beauchamp, Research Assistant
Reviewed by Dr. Cathy Fillmore and Members of the Manitoba Intersectoral Committee on Self-Harm, 2006

Community Mobilization for Women and Girls Who Self-Harm
An Environmental Scan of Manitoba Service Providers PDF Document
Catherine J. Fillmore, University of Winnipeg
Colleen Anne Dell, Carleton University and Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse
in conjunction with the Elizabeth Fry Society of Manitoba
September, 2005

Prairie Women, Violence and Self-Harm PDF Document
Catherine J. Fillmore, University of Winnipeg
Colleen Anne Dell, Carleton University and Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse
in conjunction with the Elizabeth Fry Society of Manitoba
August, 2000