In the work I carried out leading up to the Project 6 A Picture of Health I created an image of a bloody and shit covered incontinence sheet. At the time I moved on and produced the typology of Urine in night bags because I felt the bloody sheet was too much of a reality index – a document – rather than an aesthetic representation of or discourse about health.
But the subject matter has stuck with me. I think this is because I have not yet addressed the issue of fear while also finding my thoughts going back to the work on sublime and grotesque images I have mentioned previously. I live with fear of failure all the time. Bodily failure or failure of pieces of kit and equipment all can leave me unable, ill and stuck. Thus it seemed to me that I need to represent this fear in some visual way if I am to create a body of work and so this is what I have attempted to do here.
I am not intending to create a sublime or grotesque image but rather one that plays on the subject of representation and reality. So here is the original image. As can be seen it is just what it is and the photo of it acts almost purely s a window to document the reality.
But when I bleed I can’t feel the blood leave me (until I faint): I have to see or touch it with my hand, or hear it run into the toilet bowl, because my paralysed body (from my nipples and below) does not register feeling. So imagine the following:
You wake up and as you pull back your duvet, you see this type of image between your legs. Adrenalin pumps in quickly and at once you’re wide awake and trying to find 1) the source of the blood and 2) whether it’s stopped. You find the source and apply pressure, all the time hoping that you can stop it as you don’t want to spend the next 24 hours or so in treatment at hospital (or more exactly waiting around for 23.5 hours and being given a coagulant drug).
Then there is the clear up, bath, clean sheets and getting dressed. All this takes a long time when you’re paralysed and so the day begins many hours later than planned and the process of cleaning up has been interspersed with periods of rest where I look at the situation and evidence around me and often think about it in terms of shape, texture, colour and aesthetic values of the scene.
Then as distance is put between you and the event the fear and worry sit in a part of your brain that is just conscious and so whatever you are doing part of you is thinking about the next bleed and how that will end up. The, of course, you are always worried about how family members are feeling and so my strategy is to hide this from them.
So it is these kind of feelings that I want to evoke reflect that experience I have defined above – a visceral impact and then contemplation about subject matter and form.