Sanguinary

Sanguinary

Sanguinary is a collection of photographic salt prints made from my own blood in response to a personal desire for intimacy. The images refer to moments of cognitive dissonance experienced in the perception of this desire’s ultimate impossibility. I created these photographs as a way of physically attempting to bridge the gaps between myself and the people I love and as a physical catalog of this failure.

Merriam-Webster’s definition of sanguinary as, “attended by great bloodshed”, elicits impressions of pain, loss, and death but this word also holds a connotation of stillness in its phonetic resemblance to the word sanctuary; a place of refuge. In many cultures blood is considered the sacred life force within a person. It is the physical vehicle of healing in our bodies while at the same time remaining the visual analog to death. I am interested in this dichotomy as it refers to the state of emotional vulnerability and the complex desire for physical consumption of the other in the face of intimacy.

I explore the way in which we use photographs as method of connection over distances of both time and space while being completely aware of the ultimate inability of the photograph to contain the person or memory that we desire so much. I use blood as an attempt to both represent and heal the wounds of loss in my own past.

Watercolor paper is coated with blood drawn from veins close to the surface of my skin and then with a solution of silver nitrate. In the places where the blood and silver nitrate overlap a chemical reaction occurs to create a light sensitive emulsion on the paper. It is then exposed to sunlight. I adapted this method from the salt print process developed by Henry Fox Talbot in the mid 1830’s. One of the first photographic processes from a time when photography might still have been confused with alchemy. It is pure coincidence that blood has the same saline content as Talbot’s original formula.