EuropeNudeThe Butterfly Collector by Alva Bernadine

I had the idea of pinning butterflies to a model. I had some framed butterflies I had owned for some years that I was willing to sacrifice.
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Alva Bernadine – I had the idea of pinning butterflies to a model. I had some framed butterflies I had owned for some years that I was willing to sacrifice.

On my first try the model pierced herself with piercing needles and we attached  the butterflies to them. The only problem was that because of the nature of the needles the butterflies lay flat on the skin. That did not work for me.

 Alva Bernadine

I then came up with the idea of using acupuncture needles. i have had acupuncture myself several times but had never applied any myself but i bought some on ebay with the intention of taking a stab at it, literally, on a model. I mentioned it to my neighbour, and she told me she had just qualified in acupuncture and she would help me. While tidying I saw clear plastic address label on an envelope and it occurred to me there and then that I could use such labels for the Latin names of the butterflies that collections generally have. I sourced both the butterflies and the labels on ebay.

I actually shot it on two separate days a couple of weekends apart using two sets of hair and make-up artists. Acupuncture is relatively painless on the fleshy parts of the body, It is only when you get to the sinewy bits, like the tendons that are close to the surface in the wrists and ankles, does it get really painful. It is like an electric shock when the needles go in. In the real treatment they also twist them after a few minutes, which is equally painful. When the make-up artists had a free moment I had them wielding the video camera and I filmed the process.

My favourite and the first shot I took is the girl seated on on the yellow cloth. The first time I showed it, I blew it up to 60 in. I sort of think of these shots as what a perverse butterfly collector might do in private to show his collection for his own delectation. [Official Website]
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