For Raíces aladas, or Winged Roots, Spanish-born photographer David Catá constructs a small pocket of flesh within his palm by tearing away superficial layers of skin, into which he places a sampling of earth and the stem of a rose. Recording the process with his camera, he condenses elements of performance art into a series of still frames, speaking to themes of impermanence, loss, and rebirth.
This isn’t Catá’s first foray into body modification; last year, he made a splash with a flor de piel, for which he sewed portraits of family members and loved ones into his flesh. Raíces aladas evolves from his previous practice with breaking skin, and the process of rupturing the skin and introducing the soil and plant elements usually takes about ninety minutes of his time. For him, the project functions as a visual diary of his move from his home in Viveiro, Galicia to Berlin, Germany. With this transition, the artist was transplanted, left grieving the loss of his friends, familiar surroundings, and the Spanish language.
As with the rose severed from its roots, the photographer felt cut off from his origins and yet he anticipated his own rebirth and growth. Here, corporeal violence stands in for the fracturing the human psyche undergoes as circumstances change and memories are lost, but this acute pain ultimately gives rise to something unexpected, raw, and resplendent.
All images © David Catá