The Travelers

by Andy Blubaugh

OR

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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. 

Funding from USA Projects will be used to pay the technical crew and rental fees for camera, sound and lighting equipment to shoot the constructed elements of the project, and to pay a technical consultant to aid with final design and installation.  Any funds earned beyond our minimum goal will be applied toward the goal of bringing the project to additional audiences, especially underserved or remote audiences with limited exposure to video art.

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    • May 13, 2012 Susan A. Community Member

      Hi I'm a hospice respite volunteer. would be glad to chat about the experience. I truly hope you will include some imagery that relates to the compassion and empathy that are truly vital to this work. Listening is my most important job.

      • May 13, 2012 Susan A. Community Member

        my email is sgoldfield@aol.com and best of luck on your project!

    • May 09, 2012 Jeffrey Krieger Artist

      Very interesting!!!