During my first year of medical school, I expected to work with and even dissect cadavers. I remember one particular day in October of 2016, we were given a 89-year-old, gray-haired, male cadaver; a widower who didn’t look his age. We called him “sir”. The assignment: to completely bisect him. I looked around the room as my fellow classmates sawed through torsos, and the experience struck me as simultaneously jarring, surreal, and dare I say exhilarating? I felt excited to finally observe up close the structures that I had spent weeks learning, for the opportunity to see them in real life, in the flesh, as opposed to just in textbook photos and diagrams. In hindsight, I realize my dissociation from the reality of that moment. I had made this person, a recently living human being, into a piece of flesh to be examined and poked. The beauty of the human body changed into slabs of meat. Sawing through another human’s flesh and bone changes you in a irreversible way. Understanding the finite line between life and death, person and object, morbid curiosity and academic interest, respect and irreverence.
My recent work serves as a way for me to process the emotions and desensitization I carried with me as I left that anatomy lab, and subsequently all that I left medical school with. It has become a way for me to assimilate back into normal life. It separates the body from the person, a symptom as only a part of an illness, objects for learning as opposed to living beings. My photographs represent the shock of a body that has been probed and prodded, juxtaposed and placed into an ordinary landscape, just as I now navigate my life away from science.