“Teach us to outgrow our madness,” – Kenzaburo Oe & Alfredo Jaar

Starting with chromogenic prints, the surface of these images are engraved in a laser machine. The result of the laser treatment to the surface causes the light- sensitive emulsion to separate from its paper backing, leaving behind a skin-like material. What if we could shed our image, easily re-engraving our perspective, and allowing for growth? What would our leaders look like then?

The snake has long been regarded as a mystical animal. Snakes are associated with wisdom, fertility, healing, water and immortality. Snakes shed their skin as a means to rid themselves of parasites and allow for growth. Yet, if you are called a snake, you are believed to be an unscrupulous person.

All the images appropriated for the series, Snake Skin, exist in the public domain for use, remix, and transformation. Some images require attribution to the photographer, when cited by their creative commons usage license. These images represent a sampling of political leaders who suffer or suffered from mental illness according to reports funded by the United States Central Intelligence Agency and can be found in the book by Tufts Medical Center’s Professor of Psychiatry, Nassir Ghaemi, titled A First-Rate Madness. Not all these leaders have been officially diagnosed. For those unofficially diagnosed, the conclusion is based on documented behaviors.