I have been living with an incurable blood cancer since 2009. The disease remains untreated until it becomes aggressive - years, even decades. The standard protocol of care is called “watch and wait”. The first year, I waited to die; I no longer knew who I was.
Inspired by the assignments John Baldessari prepared for his CalArts students in the 1970s, I created Assignment No. 15: watch + wait. While photographing myself in my Canadian prairie homeland, I use a personal imagery world including props like my childhood dollhouse, toys, broken chairs, my black mourning dress, and a vintage embroidered garment. In limiting myself to this discrete personal subject, I opened the door to my subconscious, dreams and visions. Here I entered into a patriarchal space where Greek mythology, fairy tales and ritual seemed to disempower, dissect, and reconstruct my persona – somewhat like the medical professionals charged with my care.
Technically, I used diverse approaches including reshooting images displayed on my computer screen with an old Polaroid SX-70 and then digitally combining the two. Color and black and white images are joined; blurred multiple exposures follow focused pictures. The imagery is purposefully fragmented, to create a space where psychological and existential lenses are used to find a new way of coping with the highly paradoxical situation of “watching and waiting” or “living and waiting to die”. All this in the context of the perplexing human delusion that we will live forever. My body and its connection to the land are central to my work. Whether I am levitating on a crop waiting to be harvested or nestling into the rows of a field before snowfall. It is as if the battle waging in my body is arrested when mixed with the land. In this space, one of poetical and metaphorical exploration I …