PETER BRANDT
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I Died In Italy But No One Knows It – a reflection

By Peter Brandt

From the book “I Died In Italy But No One Knows It”, page 11, 2010.

Eight years ago, a few months after I survived a nearly fatal assault in Rome, I sat down and tried to write about it for the first time and all I could come up with was a list of paradoxes. Things had stopped making sense. It was in Italy in 2002, during my residency at The Danish Institute in Rome that I was assaulted and beaten up by a stranger. I have no recollection of the assault itself, but what I do remember is doctors and police telling me that I should not have survived this.

At the Santa Maria Hospital in Rome I went through x-rays, CT scanning, neurological tests, a full body exam, as well as the first interrogation with the police. I had multiple head injuries, an eye injury, some loss of hearing and numerous neurological problems, due to having attained brain injury. I was traumatized and displayed PTSD symptoms, such as flashbacks, anxiety, hyper arousal and memory problems.

How do you translate such an experience into artistic work? Through the years have I jotted down notes, and I have studied trauma theory as well as feminism and masculinity studies. I have looked at artists, filmmakers and writers who have dealt with the traumatic experience. I have tried to fuse my personal experience with cultural questions of violence and trauma. I can't go on, I have to go on is probably the most urgent question in a trauma victim's life and this project is my attempt to communicate the complex experience of the traumatic, as I have experienced it