Phelim Hoey (IE/NL, b. 1984) is a visual artist based in Amsterdam. He studied documentary photography at the School of the Arts (HKU) in Utrecht, the Netherlands. Here, in his first days at art school, Hoey encountered a series of optical difficulties. These difficulties were among the early symptoms of MS, a neurological illness with which he was formally diagnosed a few months later. His practice would subsequently acquire new meaning as a possible agent of healing, offering an important creative outlet for studying his condition, as well as the potential for tracing the ever-changing relationship he experiences with his body.
Autonomy and independence are considered important in our society, and often form a big part of one’s identity. In Hoey’s case, being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, it is no longer self-evident that the body carries out actions – however simple. These experiences lead to alienation, fear and an instrumental vision towards the body. With the loss of the certainty of a functioning body, the identity is also compromised. Who he is, and how the disease influences his identity, is something Hoey explores in his project, La Machine.