I created this body of work while an artist-in-residence in Sitka, Alaska in fall 2015. I photographed myself nude in the coastal temperate rainforests, in the muskegs, and at the edge of the Pacific Ocean. My first foray into self-portraiture, I followed an artistic impulse that asked me to immerse myself in the landscape in a way I had never done before. What began largely as an expression of fertility and loss grew into a playful dialogue with forest, moss, rocks, and water, as I discovered a sense of belonging and to my delight, my own animal self.
I come to photography as a dancer and improvisational artist, informed by past site-specific choreography performed within dry river beds, desert mountains, and vacant urban spaces. I’m interested in what happens to the body when it is placed inside, alongside, against, and with “nature.” Does the body become more animal and less human? Conversely, what happens to wild landscapes when the human form enters them? Are they enhanced, corrupted, or rendered “unnatural”? My images play with these dualities and interactions. In this self-portrait work, I look for ways my body can complement, interrupt, and highlight elements of nature: sea, sky, rocks, moss, forest. Rather than try to identify with or merge with these elements, I am looking to create a duet with them. In a duet, difference is allowed and necessary, and a kind of unity becomes possible. What often arises when I am working is a sense of belonging in the landscape and also a sense of becoming/being an animal. Not any particular wild animal, but rather my own human animal self—playing, hiding, resting—integrally part of the place.