The images that compose the series Cuerpo de batalla/Battle Body began as illustrations for the poems that make up the artist’s book by the same title. The book, which I started creating in 2003 after going through a stem cell transplant after a recurrence of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, developed throughout the course of two years.
Although the poems came first, when I decided to turn them into a book, I wanted the images that would go with the poems to stand on their own so that they could tell my story visually and powerfully. I tried several mediums before choosing to work digitally. I had never been able to work successfully in this new medium, at least not creatively. But as soon as I started creating layers, and controlling the visual aspects of my own body, the images flowed into being without hesitation.
The story that these pieces tell is the story of my body, of its struggle to survive on many levels. After such a powerful experience—that to me is equivalent to dying and coming back to life—I had to imagine and recreate both my inner and outer self. The body in these pieces exists among the recurrent image of cancer cells seen through a microscope and manipulated into colors and shadows, both complementing and menacing the subject. As the images progress, the cells become less perceptible and more colorful, a conquest that will never be final, but that can nevertheless be claimed.
Most of the pieces focus on the torso, the part of the human body where the majority of functions occur, and where cancer developed in me. Only two images present people other than I: my son, and my dear friend, the poet Yarisa Colón. My son is a part of my body, still attached by the invisible forces of nature. Friendship also often felt much like a body organ: without it I could not have survived. The darker images propose a climax, death and darkness, dissolution and disappearance. They all lead back cyclically to the first two (created last) in which the changed body with its artificial “port” is surrounded by beauty and has evolved parallel with a growing sense of pantheism as reflected in its fusion with plant life and light.
Some images reflect the terror and loss I felt, others the beauty and power I acquired through the battle for survival. Together, they are the summary of an experience through which a message of hope and empowerment emerges and flows with life.