Caitlin Dempsey is an artist and Bachelor of Psychology graduate. Her practice explores the emotional states and psychological constructs she learnt about during her studies.
For her work, Stay and Be Still, Dempsey explores why humans prefer to stay in psychological experiences that are familiar and comfortable even if they are maladaptive.
While writing her honours thesis in 2016, Dempsey came across the Cognitive Consistency Principle, which posits that humans desire to seek and maintain a stable view of themselves and their world. By performing familiar patterns of thoughts and behaviours we increase predictability in our lives and thus reduce anxiety.
The artist became aware of the presence of this principle in her life earlier this year when she felt resistant to a number of significant life changes related to her mental health and interpersonal relationships. Although these changes were positive they were incompatible with the artist’s identity and perception of herself.
To explore this resistance to change the artist laid submerged in a bath for approximately four hours. While submerged she listened to personally significant melancholic music that she has used to comfort herself with in the past. She has kept the water from this bath and has been allowing it to stagnate for a number of months. This water will be exhibited as an installation work.