Artborne Magazine December 2016 - Page 45

using her own and her mother’s blood, she created Paschal candles inscribed with dates representing surgeries, accidents, and diagnoses from her and her mother’s personal histories, referencing the traditional use of Paschal candles during Easter, baptismal, and funerary rituals. Memorials often valorize the dead and provide comfort for the living, turning away from the decaying body and toward the spiritual and symbolic, offering hope of an abstract eternity. O’Brien’s memorials, however, decidedly enter into the realm of abjection, confronting the fragility of the human form with its biological reality. In her 1982 work, Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection, Julia Kristeva wrote, “A wound with blood and pus, or the sickly, acrid smell of sweat, of decay, does not signify death… these body fluids, this defilement, this shit, are what life withstands, hardly and with difficulty, on the part of death. There, I am at the border of my condition as a living being.” O’Brien’s memorials, in their exaltation of the physiological processes that make death an inevitable part of life, are elegant and poignant, personal and universal homages to these conditions of human life. You can see more at: above: Your Blood, My Blood, Our Blood, clear toy candy (sugar, corn syrup, water), human blood, traditional canning jars below: Communion Photograph Series, giclée print Orlando’s Art Scene, v. 1.6 44