Titled after the poem by Baudelaire, these paintings were created by mixing my blood with concentrated industrial contaminants found within my body. To begin this series I had my hair, teeth and blood analyzed for levels of anthropogenic chemicals. My body, along with everyone else alive today, contain numerous pollutants ranging from radio-nuclides, xeno-estrogens, heavy metals and the list goes on and on. The brushstrokes were modeled after my fingerprints and painted on amassed layers of ephemera from daily-life. The resulting works are my attempt at post-industrial biological self-portraits.
Alchimie de la douleur
L’un t’éclaire avec son ardeur,
L’autre en toi met son deuil, Nature!
Ce qui dit à l’un: Sépulture!
Dit à l’autre: Vie et splendeur!
Hermès inconnu qui m’assistes
Et qui toujours m’intimidas,
Tu me rends l’égal de Midas,
Le plus triste des alchimistes;
Par toi je change l’or en fer
Et le paradis en enfer;
Dans le suaire des nuages
Je découvre un cadavre cher,
Et sur les célestes rivages
Je bâtis de grands sarcophages.
Les Fleurs du mal (1857)
Alchemy of Grief
One puts all nature into mourning,
One lights her like a flaring sun —
What whispers “Burial” to the one
Cries to the other, “Life and Morning.”
The unknown Hermes who assists
The role of Midas to reverse,
And makes me by a subtle curse
The saddest of all alchemists —
By him, my paradise to hell,
And gold to slag, is changed too well.
The clouds are winding-sheets, and I,
Bidding some dear-loved corpse farewell,
Along the shore-line of the sky,
Erect my vast sarcophagi.
-Translation by Roy Campbel
Poems of Baudelaire (1952)