"It gives me encouragement for many that our voice will be heard through your book." - Janet Jones, migraineur
"Thank you for inspiring me to not give up on photography even though I'm plagued with chronic migraines." - Lindsey Burk, migraineur and photography student
When my migraine first started in June of 2008, I felt completely alone. I was isolated, I was stuck in my house for weeks or sometimes months at a time and I just felt like I was the only person in the world going through what I was going through.
For me, my reaction to that as a photographer was to keep shooting. I had been a landscape and urban landscape photographer and at some point I acknowledged that it was no longer possible to do that kind of work without making myself sicker. I wasn’t willing to stop shooting completely, though, so I started shooting in my home, and at my doctors’ offices, and creating self-portraits, creating a personal document of my experience of chronic migraine. As well, as I got better in the past year, I began making images of my healing, but they are defined less by subject matter and more by the use of light and space.
The title My days of losing words, refers to one of the stranger experiences I’ve had from my illness, that of being inarticulate. When I first became sick, I couldn’t speak because my pain level was so high. When I found I medication that brought the pain down to a manageable level, it came with a side effect of making me forget words. I was stuck between these two horrible experiences. I was frustrated and started keeping a list of forgotten words, using them as a reference point for the photographs I was taking. Each photograph represents one of the words - i.e., each image is a visual mnemonic for one of the “lost” words - and each word becomes the title for its photograph.
For example, the word "Broken" becomes a broken sink in a hospital room, a strange symbol for how I felt in all of the various medical offices I was frequenting:
And the word “Soup” becomes an image of a block of frozen homemade soup in a pot on the stove:
The self-portraits, where the camera is turned inward instead of outward, seemed natural to keep untitled:
(This is also the cover image for the book.)
Stuck alone in my house, I started researching about migraine, and I realized I was far from alone in my experience. Over 3 million people have chronic migraine in the US, and 12 percent of the population suffers from migraine in general. I realized that my work could possibly mean something to a lot of people, that it was bigger than just me. So, I’m working with Kehrer Verlag, a prestigious art publisher in Heidelberg, Germany in order to reach those people. We’re aiming to make a beautiful book that’s more than just an art book. I’ve asked Robert Wuilfe, an independent curator who has chronic migraine to write an introduction to the book, and Dawn Buse, a researcher at Yeshiva University will be writing an essay on the medical and sociological impact of chronic migraine for the book as well. With your help, we will be releasing the book at a lower price point than most art books, which will get the book into more people’s hands.
Getting the book out into the world will make us more visible. Right now, most people with chronic migraine are stuck indoors, and told to get over it because it’s “just a headache”, but it’s way more than that. This book shows my personal experience, but it’s bigger than that. It’s our experience. That’s so important to show people, and this is the first book of its kind.
In today's fine art publishing world, unless you're a famous photographer, the photographer shares at least some of the financial risk of putting a book out. That's why I’m asking for your contributions to help tell our story to the world. They will all go towards production costs, by which I mean image processing, proofing, printing, and shipping from Germany. This breaks down to about $15k for design, printing, and proofing, $2k for shipping from Germany (after which I'll incur shipping costs to get it to you), and the rest for image processing.
Thank you for your consideration, and please spread the word.
Risks and challenges
If funded, the book will be done. It will be released in the fall. Kehrer has signed on and given me a letter of intent and a binding offer. The only setback could be a delay, but that is doubtful - so far, everything has been on schedule and we're making good progress. Most recently, I've been scanning the images to get them ready.
Of course I will keep everyone updated on the progress of the book regularly, so you'll know what's going on with it regardless.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (35 days)