The Alchemy of Intimacy: The Photography of Cara Judea Alhadeff
I develop my photographic scenarios by finding natural and architectural sites that juxtapose to human gestures and psychological states. I then choreograph narratives within these environments. Although the photographs are consciously constructed, the relationships are born out of an improvised collaboration in which the physics of touch, gravity, and balance establish an unfolding performance. My photographic performers simultaneously splay their bodies like a smear, echo, trace of memory, and compress themselves into the present moment. The photograph exposes the viewer to what is unfolding in front of the camera; nothing is manipulated during the analogue developing or printing process.
Although I am a photographer, I don’t see my work as strictly photographic, but as sculptural, performative, cinematic. Collaborating with artists from multiple disciplines is critical to my working process. I arrange space, objects, and bodies (including my own) in such a way that blur the lines that separate them.
This luminescent excess inhabits both the domestic and the animalistic. Characters become hybrids of machine and animal that populate dream-like worlds. The quotidian in relation to the sensual spectacle sets up a ritualistic narrative—a strewn collision of bodies and space is simultaneously purposeful and haphazard. Through a playful, carnal visual language, these polymorphic bodies are engaged in ambiguous ceremonies.
I explore the body as a membrane between sensuality and restraint, surrender and resistance. My intention is to disrupt the distinction between the interior and exterior of both psychological and physical experiences.
Images illuminate a call and response between anxiety and beauty: anxiety in the moment of recognizing the familiar within the unfamiliar, beauty in the moment of responsiveness to our undeniable connectedness, yet clinging to a separate identification. I explore this web as a process of multi-layered storytelling in which ambiguity is not a lack of clarity, but a multiplicity of clarities.
Only through cross-disciplinary activism can I thrive as an embodied artist, mother, and cultural worker. Fusing theory and image, Viscous Expectations: Justice, Vulnerability, The Ob-scene (Pennsylvania State University Press, 2014), my first transdisciplinary feminist philosophy book, like my photographs, scrutinizes how racial hygiene, anti-intellectualism, and ethnocentrism configure the troubled yet vital concept of equality. Viscous Expectations explores vulnerability of the body as a strategy for collaborative justice. It covers a spectrum of political, philosophical, and personal subjects woven throughout my ninety-two color photographs and video stills, 522 pages of theoretical text, and extensive footnotes, a triad that presents polyvalent, overlapping narratives.
My work, an alchemy of intimacy, animates the fertility of uncanny congruencies—illuminating a recognition of difference, the familiar within the unfamiliar—a visceral, playful socio-political connection with a myriad of alterities as constitutive of a dynamic democracy.