Monday, October 18, 2010
I stumbled across a gem of a website this week. "Before I die, I want to...." is the brain child of
news that Polaroid would be discontinuing products, allowing a symbolic death of this
However it goes deeper than this. In contemplating a tool used by the medical community called "safety contracts" for suicidal individuals, they were struck by the power of verbal commitment. The simple notion of someone being asked to promise not to harm themselves until help comes, etc, with the verbal agreement from the individual has been shown to actually work.If there is power in this verbal connection, what if someone made a verbal commitment as they contemplated death, about something they hoped to achieve? Would the act of
documentation make any difference they mused?
Thus a project was born, using the immediate art of a Polaroid camera with no "re-do's" and a person's own words/handwriting outlining what it is they want to do before they die.
As you can imagine there is much to be examined in terms of values as related to age, culture and life experiences.
The two have traveled internationally posing this question and have even visited a hospice in NY to ask those closer to death about their wishes/hopes.
All in all they've captured over 1,200 photos. They have plans in the future to attempt contact with each individual to see if they've achieved their goal and also to ask for a narrative once they have.
The website has the photos divided by location; US, India and Hospice. There are also interesting insights the photographers have from their experience as the "documentarians". I enjoyed reading their observations as they contemplate cultural differences, including Americans often unease of the question, as it brings up dying.
The project is ongoing and they even accept Polaroid's taken from others - with instructions on the website how you can submit your own "Before I die, I want to..." Polaroid.
I hope you can take some time to browse the photos, making your
own insights on what you see. They mention they've yet to find someone who has said "nothing", it seems we can all think of something we want to do before we die.
What would your caption say?
All images are copyrighted 2008-2010 to Nicole Kenney + KS Rives
The translation from the final photo taken in India reads "I want to make a pilgrimage to Mecca