Once your parents pass away, you realise you’re next in line. My father was diagnosed with terminal cancer at the tender age of 64. Blood Line investigates how his inescapable disease and death also affected my own life. I saw my father’s pain and felt my own. My subjects are my daughters, my flesh and blood, his descendants. He experienced, I processed, they embody.
With this work I address how terminal illness turns our lives upside down and affects communication and identity. When I was with my dad, he and I knew his days were numbered. I was able to say things I might not have shared before, but I also found myself withholding private thoughts. My version of reality and truth shifted. Blood Line illustrates the ensuing coding of language and our morphing sense of Self.
Life as I knew it was radically redefined and my personal definition of a photograph evolved. In much of the work, I altered the surface of my pigment ink prints with the medical supplies that overtook our lives, such as gauze, suture thread, eosin…, even my own blood that I drew from my fingers. I cut the prints with scalpels and tore them by hand. By lineage, I am the literal link between my father and my daughters. Now I am also that link through the work of my hands.
A year later he is gone, and when I am too, the photographs will still be there to connect us all.
Not so long ago I had a growing migraine attack while lying in bed on a Saturday morning. Migraines were new to me so I was surprised to sense tingling spreading across my limbs. I suddenly felt something pop in my head and pulse through me. Right then paralysis took me over like a wave would. I couldn’t move, couldn’t even open my eyes, couldn’t call for help. My mind was fully on but my body was no longer responding to its command. I was locked-in. It only lasted a short while but it was the most terrifying event of my life so far. In what started as an attempt to exorcise my angst, I decided to explore through photography the anguish I had felt during this episode.
Beyond my very personal connection to this body of work, I have always been drawn to contrasting juxtapositions. And I’m mostly interested in a growing realisation that oppositions and contradictions are not always necessarily mutually exclusive as logic would dictate – for instance an ugly incident can also have some beauty to it. Reflecting on having been locked-in, I was fascinated by the idea that I had felt very much in motion qua brain while totally paralysed physically. I set out to highlight those two opposite States of Being happening concurrently by representing visually the different stages of my incident combining multiple exposures digitally. I believe digital impressions would have been too sharp and crisp for the subject matter and I therefore chose to hand print the series as Van Dyke Browns. This antique alternative process gives the final prints a certain softness, fitting with my experience, which adds to the slightly surreal feel of the work. This in turn also acts as an allegory for the complex and obscure link between our body and our mind – a connection we rarely truly deeply contemplate, except maybe on the days when it stops working properly.