The Body in Transformation

This series investigates the body and its relationship to the person who lives in it: as a location of evolution and change; of growth, learning and metamorphosis, but also of aging and disease. The images illustrate conceptions of the body, using life-sized silhouettes on 50 inch wide, 8-12 foot tall silver gelatin photo paper. The prints are created without negatives by unique processes, mostly by making photograms and/or by painting with chemistry and bleach on photographic paper. The images have been exhibited as individual photographs and as a site-specific installation. As an installation, the room is lit by a life-size sculpture of a body undergoing a metamorphosis, wrapped in a chrysalis. The body is illuminated from the inside with Christmas lights and is made of chair stuffing material and tattered fabric. The installation was created for the Month of Photography in Bratislava, Slovakia in 2006, the wall text from the exhibition is below.

This piece is an installation about the body and its relationship to the person who lives in it—as a location of evolution and change—of growth, learning and metamorphosis, also of aging and disease—

There are as many lenses through which to see the body as there are people doing the looking—and all of these complex layers exist simultaneously—

There is the physical body—skin, bone, blood, hair, colors, textures—

And the products of the body—sweat, tears, urine, blood, spit, feces—

The body as animal, an organism with a certain matter—height and weight—

The systems of the body—breath, digestion, blood flow, nerves, reproduction, lymph—

The body as liquid, gas and solid—osmosis, structure, pathways, tides, ebb and flow—

The body in motion, even when at rest—the rhythms of the body— peristalsis, urges, metabolism, gesture, stimulation—

The energetic body—heat, radiation, vibration, charkas, light, magnetism, electricity, synapses, aura, acupuncture meridians—

The body as a site for individual personality, emotion, consciousness, courage, thoughts, needs, dreams—

The body is abstract (the place we call us is a cluster of cells) and very real and concrete at the same time, especially in times of pain—

The metaphoric body—symbols help us visualize the abstract nature of the place we call home—body as a temple, body as landscape—seeds and eggs—the heart as a center of feeling, the breath as a small wind—

The body as site for connection, and communication, in relation to others, to the outside world—influences pour in, tumble out—the vibration of the voice—

The body in growth and decomposition—miracle and tragedy—like a plant, bloom and die and return to earth—

What is the nature of the animating force we call life? What is a soul, a spirit? Where is it before we are born, and where does it go when we die? What energy moves the body and keeps it from being a pile of flesh? If I cut off my arm, is my arm still me? Am I my body and face or my mind and thoughts? What is the germinating source of my ideas and who is home to receive them? Am I who I am to you or to myself? These are simple questions, and still we carry them all of our lives—Who am I? Why am I here? How much of who I am is shaped by the fact that I am female, growing up in this time period, in this culture, and born to these parents? Or a reaction to all of this? How much of who I am is due to the chemical makeup of my body? And how much of this will I ever get to know before my life comes to an end?

As Darwin said, it’s not the smartest or the strongest that will survive, but the ones most adaptable to change—