An essay in art in Second Life

The 22 ArtSpace: DeCarlo Maxim – The Art of Living in.adHD

Currently open at The 22 ArtSpace, the boutique gallery operated by Ricco Saenz and Randy Firebrand in Bellisseria, and running through until January 20th, 2022, is a fascinating selection of 14 photographs by DeCarlo Maxim (ReDDeE Hian), someone whose work I don’t think I’ve previously encountered.

Known in the physical world as DeCarlo Hoyte, and hailing from Montreal, Quebec, DeCarlo offers the fourteen pieces within the exhibition – entitled The Art of Living in.adHD – as a photo-essay in living with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). As such, this is a very personal series – but one which is also very approachable –  in which he takes a unique and engaging approach to his subject.

The 22 ArtSpace: DeCarlo Maxim – The Art of Living in.adHD

ADHD is a condition affecting behaviour;  those suffering from it exhibit restlessness and difficulties in controlling behaviour, trouble concentrating or in staying focused, and may act on impulse. The disorder tends to be noticed at an early age, with diagnosis generally occurring when children are between 3 and 7 years of age (although it can be diagnosed much later); it tends to be triggered as a result of a significant change in circumstance – such as moving to a new house / neighbourhood or when starting school. For many, the symptoms tend to improve with age, but for around one-third of those afflicted, symptoms can continue through adolescence and adulthood.

As there is no single cause, ADHD is considered to be a result of an interplay between genetic (70%-80% according to the Journal of Learning Disabilities) and environmental factors, treatment tends to be highly individual and focuses on a range of potential one-to-one and / or group therapies and the possible use of medication.

Within The Art of Living in.adHD, DeCarlo offers a form of self-therapy whilst also offering us insight into his interactions with ADHD. However, he does so in a special way: rather than using his avatar, he offers photos taken in the physical world which utilise toy characters as their focus. In doing so, he achieves a  number of things that really help draw the visitor into these pieces.

The 22 ArtSpace: DeCarlo Maxim – The Art of Living in.adHD

Firstly, by using little characters rather than his (or other) avatar(s), he avoid these pieces being taken as simple avatar studies in which looks, fashion and setting are the focus. The use of these little characters also subconsciously reminds us that ADHD does emerge as a childhood disorder, and can radically and lastingly impact the child’s trajectory through their young life. Finally, he can, as an adult, offer thoughts and insights into living with ADHD in the most subtle but direct means, sans the risk of character expression misleading the eye and mind.

Each piece carries with it an emotional content that in some is immediately and heart-rendingly apparent (e.g Always There, Lefted Out), and in others offers a sense of amusement and fun whilst still containing a deeper message (e.g. the I Am Grooot images, young Groot being a personification of ADHD behaviours, whilst always being repressively positive in his outlook on life).

The 22 ArtSpace: DeCarlo Maxim – The Art of Living in.adHD
When viewing this exhibition, I do recommend you start on the ground-floor rooms, and after seeing Groot on the upstairs landing, go to the room immediately to the left of the top of the stairs (between Summer Dip and Self Reflecting), before moving to the room behind the stairs-top, which to me presents the two images that crown this exhibition in terms of their visual and emotive content.

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