Fine Art Photographer Ellen Cantor is the Edge of Humanity Magazine contributor of this photo essay.  From the series ‘Unorthodox Anatomy’To see Ellen’s body of work, click on any image.


They Told Me I Was Out of Alignment


“The aim of the wise is not to secure pleasure, but to avoid pain.” – Aristotle


They Told Me I Had Scoliosis


UNORTHODOX ANATOMY references the 16th and 17th century genre of still life painting popular in the Netherlands called vanitas or momento mori.  These paintings contains collections of symbolic objects invoking the inevitability of death. Although I was not contemplating my immediate demise, the thought of major surgery made me think of my mortality. Having been diagnosed with scoliosis, spondylolisthesis and stenosis, I started to visualize the anatomy of my lumber spine and how the doctors proposed to correct my abnormalities.


They Told Me I Needed a Cage


They Told Me The Cage Went On the Side


They Told Me I Was Disintegrating


They Told Me I Was Collapsing1


From my interest in this genre of painting, I began to perceive my body and my vertebrae as both organic and inorganic with the spine out of shape, constricted, collapsing and decaying. In the vanitas genre, rotten fruit was used as a symbol for decay..


They Told Me I Was Collapsing 2


They Told Me I Needed Screws


They Told Me I Had Spiders In My Spine


Fruits and vegetables became symbols of my body. At first they were fresh from the refrigerator. Then I began to let them decay, grow mold and collapse to indicate a worsening condition.  Inorganic materials of wire, screws, springs and even rubber bands became the symbols of the spine, the discs, and the vertebrae. They were the tools necessary to hold this fragile system together.


I Can Still Feel It


If I Am Straight, Why Does It Hurt?

(See featured image)


Pain Causes Aging


Through allusion and metaphor, I am addressing the issues of pain, aging, the possibility of death and the options for living with titanium screws and plates and cages implanted within ones body.


All images and text © Ellen Cantor



See also:


By Ellen Cantor





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