How Did That Happen?

Bruising, along with bleeding, is a primary symptom of von Willebrand Disease, which often comes with great distress for the patients, caused by the social implications and stigma associated with it, thus, impacting one’s self-confidence. The general public commonly associates bruises with clumsiness or violence, consequently leading to feelings of shame and unease for the patients.


The project ‘How Did That Happen?’ aims to raise awareness that bruises don’t always indicate violence and encourages individuals to refrain from making assumptions about ‘how that happened’. Before asking someone about their bruises, it’s important to first question our own assumptions.

Even though a bruise on a VWD patient lasts longer than one on a healthy individual’s body, it is only temporary. Yet it creates a life-long experience of countless episodes of embarrassment. However, raising awareness of the disease would encourage empathy and understanding in the general public.


To address this issue, the artist has made a series of temporary tattoos – realistic bruises, that people can wear in support of those with the disease. To further dissociate the bruise on VWD patients’ bodies from violence or clumsiness, the bruises are made into shapes unlikely to occur naturally – a dolphin, a heart, a butterfly, a star, and a flower. It opens a conversation that converts a lack of understanding into compassion.

Series of 6 temporary tattoos/bruises,
Series of 6 photographs, 420 x 594 mm


Work commissioned by European Hemophilia Consortium
for the 1st European Von Willebrand Disease Awareness Day 2023


Previously: Bruised and Confused, 2019