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Routine as Repertoire


Shortly after my 21st birthday in 2007, I woke up in a hospital bed connected to tubes and machines, limbs wrapped in casts and mounted in a fixed position. I had been flattened by a speeding driver while delivering a couple of pizzas from one side of the street to the other. I sustained traumatic injuries to my head and body- shattered femur, shattered pelvis, collapsed lung, fractured skull. The good folks at the hospital put me back together with bolts and rods, but there wasn’t much they could do to repair my eye. The accident left me partially blind and forever changed the way I see and interpret the world.

I live with a third nerve palsy. The third cranial nerve (or ocular motor nerve) has three main functions. It controls the pupil and lens, the upper eyelid, and the eye muscles that allow for tracking. With a third nerve palsy, these functions are paralyzed. My pupil doesn’t expand or contract to control my eye's intake of light. My eyelid doesn’t close completely when I blink or when I sleep. My muscles don’t allow my right eye to move in synchronicity with my left eye, rendering me with minimal vision and double vision.  

Each morning before I leave the house, I use special eye drops to shrink my pupil so my eye can tolerate daylight. Each night before I go to bed, I prepare my eye with a special ointment and seal it shut with special tape– my handmade, disposable eyelid. This is my daily repertoire.

I couldn't approach these experiences through art until about 10 years after the fact. When I finally did, it gave me back some power and autonomy. In 2019, I attempted to grapple with the event and its aftermath using performance, video, photography, and sculpture. The objective: to confront my body as a vessel of trauma. I wanted to witness and record my body engaging in a temporal, ephemeral experience as a way to transgress emotional barriers. What emerged is a story in three chapters.

*Weng San’s notes: Lauren made this work a few years ago, but has not shared it until now, and I am deeply grateful. You can view more of Lauren’s work at


Chapter 1: The Exorcist. A performative video in which I dripped wax from a sex candle on my hand as the camera recorded the action and my reaction. While the hot wax on my skin was only mildly painful, I was interested in using the physical sensation to draw out emotional pain.

Chapter 2: Love in a Colder Climate. Stalactites formed as the wax dripped through my fingers and the incidental sculptural forms became the subject of my photographs.

Chapter 3: Souvenirs from the Moon. The nub of the candle and a piece of wax that I pulled off my fingers are material records. I cast them in silver plated bronze and set on a block of lava rock.