Photos: In ‘Nothing Left,’ artist Adriana Salazar finds art in what our bodies leave behind

For centuries, artists have been obsessed with death. From elaborate Egyptian tombs to early Christian paintings of martyred saints — to contemporary artists, who use everything from dead sheep to stuffed goats in their work.

One artist, however, is taking the practice a step further. Adriana Salazar creates work that examines what happens to our remains after we die. Enter the back room at the Grand Central Art Center in downtown Santa Ana and you’ll find a hushed, dimly-lit gallery. Five wooden tables display tidy rows of metal scraps. There are old screws, bent rods and small piles of rusty wires.

Salazar retrieved the pieces from a crematorium in Orange County. The metal bits on the table are medical implants, which were once inside living bodies. “Your body is governed by laws even after you’re dead,” says Salazar. “You’re still submitted to regulations about your remains. What are your remains? What aren’t your remains? What is people supposed to do with your remains? And what is definitely forbidden?”

Adriana Salazar’s Nothing Else Left is on display in Santa Ana through September. 

 

A view of Adriana Salazar's installation at the Orange County Museum of Art. The piece, titled "Moving Plant #30" (2013), is comprised of dying flowers that Salazar rescued from a cemetery dumpster in Orange County. Each rests on a tiny motor that slowly rotates the plant. Credit: Carolina A. Miranda
A view of Adriana Salazar’s installation at the Orange County Museum of Art. The piece, titled “Moving Plant #30” (2013), is comprised of dying flowers that Salazar rescued from a cemetery dumpster in Orange County. Each rests on a tiny motor that slowly rotates the plant.
Credit: Carolina A. Miranda
Medical implants reside on a table in Salazar's exhibition at the Grand Central Art Center in Santa Ana. Despite doing extensive research, she wasn't able to figure out what every last bit may have been. Credit: Carolina A. Miranda
Medical implants reside on a table in Salazar’s exhibition at the Grand Central Art Center in Santa Ana. Despite doing extensive research, she wasn’t able to figure out what every last bit may have been.
Credit: Carolina A. Miranda
A view of Adriana Salazar's installation at the Grand Central Art Center in Santa Ana. The installation consists of five wooden tables displaying used medical implants that the artist retrieved from crematoriums Credit: Carolina A. Miranda
A view of Adriana Salazar’s installation at the Grand Central Art Center in Santa Ana. The installation consists of five wooden tables displaying used medical implants that the artist retrieved from crematoriums
Credit: Carolina A. Miranda
A detail view of the implants. These were likely used as replacements for leg bones. Credit: Carolina A. Miranda
A detail view of the implants. These were likely used as replacements for leg bones.
Credit: Carolina A. Miranda
A close-up of one of Salazar's installation tables at the Grand Central Art Center in Santa Ana. Seen here: an array of hip replacement pieces. Credit: Carolina A. Miranda
A close-up of one of Salazar’s installation tables at the Grand Central Art Center in Santa Ana. Seen here: an array of hip replacement pieces.
Credit: Carolina A. Miranda
Knee replacements on a table in Salazar's installation in Santa Ana. These parts are generally thrown away or recycled after the cremation process. Credit: Carolina A. Miranda
Knee replacements on a table in Salazar’s installation in Santa Ana. These parts are generally thrown away or recycled after the cremation process.
Credit: Carolina A. Miranda
A view of Adriana Salazar's installation at the Grand Central Art Center in Santa Ana. The installation consists of five wooden tables displaying used medical implants that the artist retrieved from crematoriums Credit: Carolina A. Miranda
A view of Adriana Salazar’s installation at the Grand Central Art Center in Santa Ana. The installation consists of five wooden tables displaying used medical implants that the artist retrieved from crematoriums.
Credit: Carolina A. Miranda