Project 6: A Picture of Health

The idea for this project has come about for two reasons. The first is because of my poor health recently. While my impairment (paralysis) is static and stable the implications of it are not. These problems range from skin care, spasticity through to incontinence and everything in between, and just recently I have felt under the weather as things have not been going well and have interfered with my ability to function. So it was while on my way to yet another hospital appointment aimed to stopping my bleeding that I began to wonder how to represent this aspect of my life as this is more about illness that disability.

The second trigger was in looking back at my last project (Evidence) and thinking about developing on from that.

Therefore project 6 continues the exploration of disability and impairment management – specifically though the lens of illness and health status. I also continue to want to represent these issues through views other than portraiture because that always appears to conflate impairment and disability by locating both within the person. My approach is aimed at representing aspects of both impairment and disability management, but in ways that focus on those aspects rather than the body and so present a discourse that does not ignore the body but emphasises the contexts I exist in and things associated with impairment management that often don’t get seen.

Wellness and approach
One of the implications of my spinal cord injury induced paralysis is that symptoms of being unwell are very general and unspecific. For example, if I break a leg I may not know until I see a swelling or if I have a headache it might be caused by my accidently sitting on my testacies and their being twisted in my crutch. Kidney failure is a regular problem for spinal cord injured people and I have only one functioning kidney because of problems (called reflux) when first injured. A common indicator for telling how well I am is the colour of my urine. For example, smelly orange urine indicates a bladder of kidney infection and, very dark urine indicates blood in it whereas clear urine is a good sign.

So, rather than just shoot the kit I use in the same way I did for Project 5 Evidence I am taking a series of shots of used night time urine bags. Thus while the approach to each shot – focal length, aperture etc. – is the same and the set a typology of the bags and urine, the colour of the urine differs and can indicate my state of health.


About Pete

South Londoner struggling with life, art and photography.
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