Body art is, “A direct reflection of the artist’s life experiences.”
–Rosemary Mayer, 1972
I examine the body within a medical context by exploring through photography, video and performance four main themes: pathological waste; containment of the body and its parts; fragmentation and violence against the body; a subject’s relationship to a specific environment.
Following my surgery in 2004 for cervical cancer, I began to photograph and perform in hospitals, morgues, medical museums and my doctors’ offices. My photographs and videos focus attention on the physical and emotional traces cancer and surgery can leave on the body while challenging the prescribed treatment for recovery and role of the patient.
Through self-portraiture and self-performance, private rituals are revealed to the public only through documentation. Personal experiences with illness and mortality are intertwined with medical procedures and the environments they take place in. The same character’s presence in many of the works allows for an introspective look at these, in some cases unassociated worlds in comparison to one another. The deliberate use of repetitive forms and actions highlights and reshapes our thoughts on these medical environments, the treatment of our bodies in these spaces, what role we have at protecting our bodies, and the lengths we will go to achieve a sense of health.
While the journey stems from a personal bout with cancer, I hope to resonate with each viewer as they reflect on the work and their own experiences with similar medical settings.
After 8 years in New York working as a photographer and photo editor, Sarah Sudhoff has returned home to Texas working as a freelance photographer, artist and professor of art. She is currently based out of Austin, Texas. website.