The Travelers is a multi-channel video installation describing the experience of several nurses, social workers, home health aides, and chaplains working in Hospice care, examining the labor they perform in the intersection between the reverent and the banal.
The end of life is a well-tread territory in documentary film, but the labor of the hospice workers that ease the dying process is largely undocumented. For the families they help, the experience is intense, terrifying, and devastating. For the workers, it can be all of these things, but is also a job. They walk a delicate line between being stewards of a profound transition and laborers like any other, managing a daily list of tasks, their work often unnoticed in a haze of grief. This duality is represented in the installation itself, through two separate sets of images which are present in a single room, but which cannot be seen simultaneously.
As in my previous works Scaredycat and The Pull, an unfolding narrative will be composed of interwoven anecdotes, supported by a stylized representation of the subjects’ experiences. Each scene will be represented in two views, presented synchronously. In the first view, narrative vignettes will represent the experience ofpeople dealing with a dying family member. These will be projected onto two walls of a room, outlined in beams to suggest a view into the cross section of a home.
In the middle of this room, a partial wall will obscure an empty hospital bed. Only by walking to this far corner and looking at the reverse of the partial wall will the viewer be able to view a second set of images; extreme close-ups representing the daily labors of the hospice worker: the mundane and necessary tasks that fill the day, and the invisibility of which allows for the profoundness of the experience of death to be fully appreciated.
The final element of the installation will be audio interviews with the hospice workers themselves, made available to viewers through wireless headphones. These stories—covering a broad spectrum of perspectives on the work, from the sacred to the irreverent—will add an additional context and meaning to the visual experience of the installation. In this way, the Hospice workers will function in the piece as they function in their jobs; as able guides through a challenging landscape.
Support The Project
To fund production of The Travelers, I’ve launched a crowdfunding campaign with USA Projects, a new program offered by the national arts
granting organization USA Artists. Though similar to services such as Kickstarter, USA Projects takes a focus approach to crowdsourcing, and only select artists qualify for the program. Once accepted, projects that reach certain are eligible for additional matching funds, multiplying the effectiveness of each pledge. Your pledge could be the one that qualifies us for one of the available matching funds!
Even if you can’t personally pledge your support, you can help our project my getting the word out. Don’t wait; click the links below and get us one step close to our finish line.
Click the link above to view our campaign page at USA Projects and make a pledge.
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If you are a nurse, social worker, or home health aide with experience in Hospice, and you are interested in contributing your story to the project, send us an email with the link above.