Claire A. Warden spits on her own art.
Maybe that's a little overly dramatic. More accurately, she used her own saliva in the processing for the constructed photographs in her upcoming exhibition, "Mimesis: A Presentation of the Self".
A current Art Intersection artist-in-residence, Warden will be showing about 10 to 12 of these abstract, thought-provoking, and somewhat cosmic photographs from Saturday, December 13, through Saturday, January 10, 2015, at the Gilbert photography gallery.
Using saliva was no accident on Warden's part, although that probably would have made for a pretty entertaining story. She says she took large-format, about 4-by-5 inches big or so, black-and-white film negatives that were either unexposed or that she would expose to light without using a camera, causing them to turn black or dark gray. She would then develop them normally. Once the film dried, Warden incorporated her saliva.
"I really let go at that point," she says, as she didn't really know how the saliva would affect the film.
Finally, Warden says she would adjust her processing according to the film's reaction to the saliva and continue developing the piece. The results are abstract, to say the least, and sometimes cross over into the realm of surreal.
Warden explains that just as a regular photograph is representational of something one can see out in the world, constructed photographs are "something created out of something that doesn't exist." They are not made in the camera, but rather in the processing and developing and, in Warden's case, the saliva.
"Each photo is abstract but has an aspect that I was in control of and not in control of," she says.
It's this dichotomy that Warden says is at the base of "Mimesis" -- the comparison between the biological and uncontrollable aspects of life and the social, cultural, and controllable ones.
"I started thinking what am I and is it possible to answer that question?" Warden says.
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Though you may not walk away from "Mimesis" with a clearly defined answer to that question, Warden hopes that her viewers will at least feel connected in some way to a piece or two.
"I try to make each photograph have its own personality," Warden says.
Be prepared for some self-reflection during "Mimesis: A Presentation of the Self" at Art Intersection, 207 N. Gilbert Rd, Suite 201, in Gilbert. The show opens Saturday, December 13, with a reception from 6 to 8 p.m. and will be on view through January 10, 2015. For more information, visit artintersection.com.