First Breath, Last Breath
Is a multi-channel, photography/video installation. My father died in 2003, and my daughter was born in 2008. This work is both autobiographical and metaphorical, and makes use of personal documentary photographs and video acquired during that seven-year period. The installation includes printed photographs; sculptural elements; an experimental single channel video, projected on one wall; and two smaller LCD panels, showing video documentation of my father’s last haircut and my daughter’s first haircut, both at Max’s Barbershop, in Greencastle, Indiana. These panels sit in a rented hospital bed and bassinet in a darkened gallery space. Both beds are lit from underneath. The hospital bed is also covered with my father’s X-rays, which are lined with dirt. The bassinet contains a glass box filled with water, and small sonograms of my daughter in utero.
As the primary video runs, my daughter is brought into existence, represented by a sonogram, and my father fades out, represented by an X-ray. The video loops through their last and first haircuts, reinforcing the cyclical process of living, growing, and dying. Through these overlaps and implied comparisons, I address the medicalization of birth and death, the scientific imaging of the body at both stages, and the hospital as a ritualistic container of family memory. Ultimately, I want to illuminate the pain and beauty of life and death within the Western medical tradition, while tracing the moments of transition from one to the other.