Photographer: Sarah Rosalena Brady
Site: SRB Video Film Photography
Based in: San Francisco
I am strongly influenced by the paradigm of alchemy as a device in art, in particular, the power of altering symbolic language through images. By symbolic language, I mean how a sign functions in the mind of an interpreter to convey a specific meaning in any given situation. Most of my art uses semiotics or symbols to deconstruct their symbolic meaning, conveying a powerful unconscious message to our programmed minds. Ideological rituals and gestures carry much weight and can trigger our cognition to our unconscious and unknown self, most things we can’t comprehend. I guess this is where the afterlife and the supernatural come into play. This photo was taken as a series in 2011 when I went to San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico for Semana Santa. Every day they would parade a certain saint or deity through out the town. It was intense. Old Spanish churches were filled to the ceiling with flowers and sacred herbs. People even dressed as devils at night and whipped you in the street if you’re weren’t home or in church. Semana Santa also is during Spring Solstice. Many indigenous practices came into play around the concepts of birth, motherhood, and fertility. This photo of the Virgin Mary was taken on Holy Saturday before she was paraded in the street. Her religious iconography is cathatic or muti-layered with image of Mexican mother goddess Tonantzin. The water represents the conducting interference between them.
This photo was inspired by my best friend, Sigrid Sheie, metal goddess of Hammers of Misfortune. She has definitely been a muse for a lot of my work. We met playing in Amber Asylum. My family on my mother’s side is deer clan, believing that they are descendants of deer. In ceremonial dances deer antlers and hooves are worn.
The next three images are representations of the whiting stage in the magnus opus called the albedo. The magnus opus is an alchemical term for the stages of chemical color changes and laboratory practices, but has also been used for describing personal and spiritual transmutations. I wanted to simply mention alchemy within the story to follow the process of transmutation, joining narrative with alchemical symbolism. Albedo “white stage” follows the chaos or massa confusa of the nigedo “black stage”. It washes away all impurities and brings spiritualization of the body. Carl Jung called the albedo, “where insight into shadow projections are realized, and inflated ego and unneeded conceptualizations are removed from the psyche”. The target of the albedo stage is to repossess purity and receptivity of the soul.
The angels are all from a cemetery at the Momias de Guanajuato (Mummies of Guanajuato) Museum in Guanajuato City, Guanajuato, Mexico. The skeleton I took last fall at a church in Wroclaw, Poland when Amber Asylum went for the X Art and Industrial Festival.
My background definitely impacted my perception and myself more than anything, including my art. My mother Maria is a Huichol and Pueblo medicine woman. Communicating with the ancestral world was a large part of my growing up and my spiritual upbringing. On my father’s side, my grandfather Brady was one top rocket engineers and physicists for Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California from the late 1940s till the 1980s. He also worked closely with Jack Parsons at CalTech and the beginning of JPL. Jack Parsons was also heavily connected with Aleister Crowley at the time, famous for invoking Pan before each test launch. Lets just say fascination with alchemy definitely stayed in the family, in particularly the magnum opus. I resemble him a lot in many ways. I love taking photos of the night sky because it makes me feel close to him. He passed away when I was a teenager. This photo was taken at Lola Montez Lake in the Tahoe National Forest. I am obsessed with Gold Rush heroine Lola Montez. She was a free independent spirit during one of the most confining times for women. Look her up. She’s amazing. The lake was named after her because she loved to camp in that area and go skinny-dipping.
My goal is to create visions and hallucinations that represent projections of the unconscious. Water is medium I use a lot to transmutate images. I am also strongly influenced by the works of Kenneth Anger, Maya Deren, Luis Bunuel, Andrei Tarkovsky, Sergei Parajanov, and Alejandro Jodorowsky.
Solar Eclipse taken in the Tahoe National Forest