Bursts of life

Series of 31 photographs: 17 of Christine, 14 of Olga.

Christine and Olga came to see me at the studio, one after another. They didn’t know each other.
They entrusted me with part of their existence and their intimacy, sharing their approach with me.
Confiding in me, they decided to give me the liberty of entirely designing and conducting the shoot.

Christine’s sole requirement was to include eggs in the images.
She wanted to express her feelings in writing, and talk about our encounter in “Bursts of life”, the text that accompanies her series of photographs. In this text, she explains all the symbolism that the eggs convey.

For Olga, the walnut represents the illness. The shape of the nut reminds her of the brain. Which is where her cancer probably started.

These photographs were originally orders. They were to become an exhibition, shared in a space going beyond the intimacy of the camera room, photo studio, and photo sessions.

BURSTS OF LIFE

Cancer kidnapped me one day in January 2010.
A cancerous tumor in the left breast, a small innocent image on an X-ray: Shocking!A handful of words and your life turns upside down.
Just a few minutes can crush you. In a few minutes, you see your life shoot by at breakneck speed. You’re not so sure if your life is really yours anymore! Or for how long! You feel old. Your youth flies away. You’ve been cursed. Your life changes in a single instant. You’re swept off your feet.  You carefree youth flies off with your certainty. 
Nothing could hurt me—a lucky star! I thought: lucky in life; happiness shattered in one blow—your dreams, desires, freshness as a young woman . . . you feel old and age quickly; each word uttered kills your hopes!
Fear overcomes me.
The entire medical team has assembled around me, all in white; as if I were awaiting the sentence on death row, the world collapses. Dumbfounded, in the darkness I make out the empty face of the Grim Reaper. How could you not think of this death!
Trembling with fear in your whole being, you try to come back to life, to not think of it anymore, to forget it. But deep down inside, you know it can determine your destiny.
I close my eyes and tell myself: Get out of this nightmare, love life again, and relive my carefree youth. But it’s no nightmare: I open my eyes and see it’s as real as ever. You want to start everything over again, to go back to the beginning of your life story: You can’t. You are in the present, and the near future is disheartening.
The verdict is pronounced like a bullet hitting the skin: lobular carcinoma with ganglia dysfunction. Then the punishment:  6 chemotherapy sessions, 1 revision operation, and 33 radiotherapy sessions.

The treatment begins. You must fight, rise above it all, and keep living. As I was going through chemotherapy, the very idea of making these photos was vital to me. I spent my whole life creating art (sculpting and painting). Photographing this event was bound to happen sooner or later! Exhausted and bedridden after a chemotherapy session, a spark, a dream arose: An image came to me.
I had a vision of myself nude, kneeling down, with a massive white egg next to me. There was a pervasive lack of color in this atmosphere. There was only black and white. I was confronted with a dichotomy. Having cancer didn’t mean I had to lose my creativity!
I was looking for someone who could relate to the same things as me, and with a vision which would convey my idea. And serendipity led me to Marielsa. Right from our first encounter, I felt that we shared a creative osmosis (a feeling that is difficult to express with words). Through her vision, my vision became a reality. Her vision became mine!

Despite my illness and my fatigue due to the treatment, it was important for me to show my attractive and feminine side, hope and life in all its fragility and vulnerability.

Christine, 44 years old.

The massive white egg is a symbol of purity, birth, and rebirth, the beginning and the end, life and death.
It also embodies the bereavement of a child, of a pregnancy no longer possible. Sterile womb, amputated, lifeless! It also embodies the transformation of a young child-bearing woman into a mature woman, in terms of her spiritual life, a life with meaning. The egg thus exorcises this transformation.

The black and white eggs play with the body and represent the birth of a dichotomy between:
evil and good,
death and life,
illness and recovery,
frailty and strength,
obscurity and light,
the end and the beginning,
nothing and everything,
emptiness and fullness.

Like a tightrope walker on a wire, the eggs strive to balance the dichotomy.

Black attracts and white dazzles; You come from the black and leave from the white!

Fight for life or drift along and surrender to death. These were my options. I chose to live!Emptiness gives birth to fullness, nothingness gives birth to everything, darkness gives birth to light, chaos gives birth to order, evil gives birth to good, you and I give birth to life, the heart gives birth to love.Remember that the journey is short, although it may sometimes feel long!

Christine – 44 years old