This past April I was injured and hospitalized during the Boston Marathon Explosions with a major back injury and two broken wrists. My Project, "Documenting My Recovery" is made up of a series of photographs and videos that explore my recovery and the healing process. I am interested in the transformative potential of photography and the moving image to reveal new information and evolve cultural thinking.
I have been researching how other artists like Harun Farocki, Hito Steyerl, Stanya Kahn, Jon Rafman, Hannah Wilke and Liza Johnson uncover the effects of war, trauma and violent events. I'm also very interested in how groups, communities and cities grieve and heal collectively. Using texts from Trauma Studies I am exploring and documenting the impacts of psychological and physical trauma on an individual (myself), my family, my immediate community, and on the city as a whole while also looking at the contrasting methods that the mass media has used to process the event. The body's healing time vs. media time.
April through July, I lived at my grandmother's house while recovering from my injuries. A visiting nurse, my mother, father, grandmother, and my dad's family from Ireland came over and took care of me. I recognize how lucky I am to have this support. Through photography and video I wanted to capture the beautiful moments I shared with both my 83-year old grandmother and my 93-year old grandmother from Ireland as they took care of me. Something I never expected as a 34-year old woman. I usually bring my grandmother to doctor's appointments and assist her with whatever she needs. I was also very aware that this could be the last time we were all in a room together like this.
Although I felt completely taken care of, loved and supported I also felt a great deal of anger, sadness, guilt and frustration at the loss of my independence and control over my life. I struggled to understand how or why this horrendous event took place and the impact it has had on others and myself. Physically, I needed help with everything. It was hard at first to let go, embrace being vulnerable and ask for help. I had both good days and bad days. On the good days I was carefree and able to fully enjoy my family's company and create so many wonderful memories. On the bad days I needed to escape. I would walk around my grandmother's building on my own or sit quietly in my room. I quickly set up my camera on a tri-pod and my computer the first week out of the hospital to document whatever came up. I created short videos with diary-like entries. There were days I'd start talking about how uneasy, angry and heavy I felt. Each time I sat down something new would develop. I used humor and got my nervous energy out by performing, dancing and letting go. By the end of every shoot I felt an overwhelming sense of strength and freedom. This action of turning the camera on myself has truly helped me process both the physical and psychological impacts I have felt since April. I have been piecing together the still images and video created during that time along with current work to articulate various thoughts and feelings I experienced from the event and during my recovery. I want to express the anger, sadness, anxiety and loss I felt but I also want to show the beautiful and unique interactions between my family and I during this difficult time. I hope the viewer can see that there is so much love and beauty along with the weight of this terrible event.
Ryan McMahon posted video of recovery