Project Description

Back Brace Self Portraits

In February 2011, I broke my back (fractured L1) in a sledding mishap. The “cure” for such an injury is to immobilize the spine for 12-14 weeks with a custom-made, clam shell plastic brace. When the physical therapists first put the brace on me, I realized that the hard white plastic was a terrific blank canvas, white board, or stage. As anyone might imagine, it’s pretty uncomfortable to sit upright or sleep in it. I spent the better part of 3.5 months on the couch. To keep myself entertained, I started shooting photos using my brace like a T-shirt, decorating it with humorous texts, slogans, and images. As time wore on, I started to see it as a replacement for my torso–a manufactured female body that I could place in any context. It was raw material, it was a shell, a costume and a partner. With it I was Venus, Frida, Miss America, an Easter egg, Humpty Dumpty, and Mr. Peanut.

In response to this trauma, I created this body of photo portraits and a short experimental video, “Swallowed Whole.”