Life:Moving revolves around six films made by people affected by terminal illness as part of a collaborative participatory and research-based arts project. Over six months, through workshops and home visits, participants from John Taylor Hospice in Birmingham were given practical and critical training and support to develop and co-create their films. Working closely with filmmaker, Briony Campbell, and academic, Michele Aaron, different ideas, priorities and devices were explored and six films generated. The six films are screened at the NeMe Arts Centre, Limassol, but are also featured in a separate exhibition at the Materia Care and Rehabilitation Unit in Latsia, Nicosia.
Various questions underpinned this project. What were the most pressing issues for participants in making these films? Which film-making tool – a smart phone, tablet or SLR camera – would best serve their creative interests and practical needs? In the age of the selfie, how would individuals with a range of physical restrictions and a lot to say represent themselves and bring personal and often difficult issues to public attention? And how would the team support this and create an environment which respected the vulnerabilities of all those involved? Life:Moving’s broad aim is to challenge society’s misconceptions about terminal illness by giving those experiencing it the opportunity to tell their own stories, and by bringing these stories to a wider audience. In so doing, the project seeks to better understand the potential of digital film to serve the best interests of the vulnerable lives it so often depicts and then disseminates.
This potential, and the ethical praxis that harnesses it, is central to the research informing and informed by these films. While the digital age opens the world to all our gazes in newly connected and affecting ways, its sharing of human vulnerability is often rife with the same kind of objectifications and taboos long established in Western culture. This project sought to develop an ethical film praxis that communicates vulnerability in such a way as to forge human connection and empower its subjects, without compromise. In other words, without a retrenching of the invulnerable gaze that simply pities but remains untouched or un-humbled by the adversity of others. These are timely and pressing concerns, not least for arts practitioners and scholars, cultural theorists and community activists. Life:Moving is a powerful experience for all those it has engaged and testimony to the value of such projects for hospices, patients and the wider community.
This exhibition presented work by Briony Campbell and the Life:Moving participants and project team.
Nico Carpentier, Hazal Yolga, Orestis Tringides