First Breath/Last Breath
“First Breath, Last Breath” is a three-channel, multimedia installation which explores the death of my father (2003) and the birth of my daughter (2008). This work is both autobiographical and metaphorical while making use of personal documentary photographs and video acquired over a seven-year period. The installation includes 2D photographs, sculptural elements, a projected experimental 3minute single channel work and 2 small LCD panels screening documentation of my father’s last haircut in 2002, and my daughter’s first haircut in 2009, both at Max’s barbershop in Greencastle, Indiana. These panels sit in a rented hospital bed and bassinet respectively in a darkened gallery space. Both “beds” are lit from underneath. The hospital bed is 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 key video progresses, my daughter is brought into existence through the visual of the sonogram and my father fades out with his last visual representation being in the form of an Xray. The work also centers around my father’s last and my daughter’s first haircut, reinforcing the cyclical process of living and dying. Through a multitude of comparisons, I am interested in speaking about the medicalization of birth and death, the scientific imaging of the body at both stages; and the hospital as a container of family memory. Ultimately, I want to illuminate the pain and beauty of life and death within a Western medical tradition while tracing the moments of transition from one to the other.
Exhibit comments: “…her work speaks of the fragility of the human experience, the proximity, at all times, of birth and death, and the ways we seek out ritual and order from the chaos of our lives. Under her gaze, an act as seemingly small as a haircut is infused with epic meaning, tying one generation to the next, tying both lives to the ground.”