The weight of Parkinson’s

When asked by a doctor what it felt like to live with Parkinson’s disease, artist ‘Pezaloom’ described a life walking through porridge.

It wasn’t long after that the Morwell-based artist, Paul Berryman was at the supermarket buying 160 kilograms of petroleum jelly to cover his entire body and represent the heaviness, slowness and restriction he experiences.

“It was more messy than you could imagine, but it was still fun,” he said.

The performative act was photographed in the Yallourn Power Station administration building that now stands derelict and empty.

The series of photographs ‘DOPA-KINESIA’ are on show at the Cowwarr Art Space – the first local display after exhibitions in Bendigo, Ballarat and Federation Square’s ‘No Vacancy Gallery’.

A life-long resident of the Latrobe Valley, Paul said the brown coal power industry also served as a metaphor for the dissonance occurring within his own body.

“The building represents the Valley very well,” he said.

Paul said most people thought about actor Michael J Fox’s shaking hands when they thought about Parkinson’s disease, but explained it was the medication that created the fast motion.

The artist in fact experiences ‘hypokinesia’, relating to the failure of certain cells in the brain to manufacture dopamine that allow for smooth, coordinated function of the body’s muscles and movements.

Paul said the work was one of the few times his art came out exactly as he envisaged.

“I tend to be loose around what the result is going to be, but it went exactly as planned,” he said.

The exhibition is on show until 27 September.