I saw human brokenness in Cellar Dweller, a savage corporal nature overlaid with a transfixing beat, color waves and thick distortions. To me, it was questioning some of the worst parts of social media, a banal existence on Instagram obsessed with our perceived excrescences and a compulsion to cut them out of our bodies to appear more desirable. I wanted to create work that would illustrate a meditative counterpoint to the video in terms of muted colors and analog methods, but tie them together with the common contemplation of brokenness, life and death, themes throughout the video.
At the root of our existence, before life begins, before fertilization, an egg rests within the body. It is, at that moment, whole and waiting. Even when crushed and left out to the elements, the egg can take on beautiful forms, forced out of its fragile shell. We too are often broken and exposed to the reality of our existence. ‘I know I’ll die. Hello I’m human.’ These are the facts, the ultimate duality of life and death.
For my response, I broke eggs open onto photographic paper and exposed them to sunlight, creating lumen prints with their sera and shells. I documented the process of their exposure, of the light penetrating the eggs, leaving behind their impressions on the paper. I then edited the images into a silent one minute sequence, fading in and out between the exposure images and the final prints, a repeating Rorschach test. These images are of the space in between two ends of the spectrum, life and death, a ghostly illumination of organic material, temporal and decomposing.
Born in Morgantown, WV and raised in Southwest Pennsylvania, Renee Greenelee began working as a non-profit administrator in 2006 after receiving her Masters degrees in both Communication and Theology from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA. She lived in Pittsburgh for 11 years, creating and managing programs for low-income communities, as well as photographing the people and places impacted by these services. In 2015, she completed the Photography Intensive Program at Pittsburgh Filmmakers and made a shift toward making work and teaching photography full-time. She now lives in Burlington, VT and is a teaching artist through Burlington City Arts. She envisions the practice of photography as a means of communication; a dialogue between light, memory and the meaning of making an image.