Photo by Claudia Amatruda

When you hear hoof beats think of horses, not zebras

When you hear hoof beats think of horses, not zebras is a first-person project, a hybrid between photography and performance that speaks to the body with the body. Its starting point is the discovery of a rare degenerative multi-organ disease and how it will transform the artist’s life.

The work is based on the concept of photography as a vital experience. The visual tool and self portraits allow Claudia to explore the relationships between the disease and her body, between the inexorable and the transcendent, the private and the political.

The performance is to be found in the very act of photographing, an intimate experience that it captured very slowly and with fatigue, as a fundamental part of the process of staging how she now lives, reproducing reality as if it was a theater show in which the props are aids that have become part of her daily life: people who stage concepts, events or moods; water, a fundamental respite that Claudia looks for in every place, because only in the absence of gravity can she go back to moving without pain; finally the body, bulwark of freedom, protagonist of its own staging.

The title of the project refers to a principle coined by Professor Theodore Woodward (University of Maryland), who instructed his interns thus: “When you hear hoof beats behind you, think of horses, don’t expect to see a zebra“. Zebra, in medical jargon, means arriving at a medical diagnosis surprisingly rare when a more common explanation is usually more likely. This principle has been repeated to the artist over and over again by her doctors, but in this case she is their zebra.