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CARA JUDEA ALHADEFF
16.06.05/17.07.05


From the Series (The Gestation Project)
"Viscous Expectations"
20x20 cm, c-print, 2003





For Cara Judea Alhadeff, “the woman’s pregnant body represents the simultaneity of inside and outside. Her private is undeniably public. Her body is raw and exposed and contained at the same time. Life within her is clearly visible from the outside. Because her corporeality cannot be concealed, the pregnant woman is exempt from societal constraints that obscure body awareness. The pregnant woman is the ideal subversive in our society (challenging cultural norms) as her womanness is utterly present. She is sexual without objectification; she is the embodiment of sexual and corporeal empowerment. Moreover, she is the alchemist who embodies and transgresses notions of difference, opening the door for identification and disidentification from others.” 
Alhadeff describes her work as the following: “My photographs explore the body as a membrane between sensuality and restraint, surrender and resistance. I arrange the space, objects, and bodies (including my own) in such a way that blurs the lines that separate them. The characters become hybrids of machine and animal who populate dream-like worlds. Although the photographs are consciously constructed, the relationships are equally born out of an improvised collaboration in which the physics of touch, gravity, and balance establish an unfolding performance.” 
My color photography is a theater of psychological and physical transformations which reveal a luminescent excess. This excess combines both the “civilized” and the animalistic. The word monster shares its root with the verb, to demonstrate. I choreograph scenes set in both quotidian and mythical environments. These constructed relationships frequently subvert notions of domesticity; for example, my current series, The Gestation Project, in which I photograph 10-30 pregnant women in public spaces such as the zoo, hair salons, bookstores, nightclubs, boxing rings, empty auditoriums. 
The woman’s pregnant body represents the simultaneity of inside and outside. Her private is undeniably public. Her body is raw and exposed and contained at the same time. Life within her is clearly visible from the outside. Because her corporeality cannot be concealed, the pregnant woman is exempt from societal constraints that obscure body awareness. The pregnant woman is the ideal subversive (challenging cultural norms) in our society because her womanness is utterly present. She is sexual without objectification--the embodiment of sexual and corporeal empowerment. She is the alchemist who embodies and transgresses notions of difference; opening the door for identification and disidentification from others. By juxtaposing bodies and body fragments with organic and synthetic materials and environments, I play with the illusory distinctions between “them and us”: the familiar and the unfamiliar, what is supposedly comfortable and what puts us on edge. The pregnant woman, like the environments in which she is photographed, is both quotidian and surreal. Her body exudes with the excess of intimacy. 
My work explores this eroticism as a tool for cultural resistance. The photographs’ characters, which include my own body, become hybrids of machine and animal which populate dream-like worlds. Through a visual carnal language, these polymorphic bodies are engaged in ambiguous ceremonies. Frequently,for the characters, these silent spectacles evoke self-awareness and discovery. Similarly, the audience has an opportunity to read their own story into the photographic scenarios. Our improvisational communication underlies my exploration of eroticism. For me, eroticism is any intensely satisfying sensation of connectedness to oneself, to others, and to one’s environment. It is continually born out of the recognition of the self in relation to the whole and the mind in relation to the body. This notion of eroticism resists homogenized social relations and self-censorship. Eroticism can be a key to examine the unconscious mind by interweaving the very interactions that are often prohibited or suppressed under social norms. Life and death become interchangeable.
I construct a seemingly irrational cohesion of fragments with sensuous objects, shapes, and colors. The quotidian in relation to the sensual sets up a ritualistic narrative. My photographs tell contradictory stories about a precarious, almost dangerous, inverted domesticity. I create ambiguous environments in which the characters might appear as though they just had an orgasm, are in a deep (death-like) meditative state. These egoless, emptied bodies become a catalyst to unravel social values and cultural assumptions—laying bare the possibility for intimacy, vulnerability, and inevitably power and strength.


Cara Judea ALHADEFF, San Francisco, March 2005