Dying Under Your Eyes, Discussion

Reckitt, Helena; Ashery, Oreet; Vasey, George and Wilson, Stephen. 2019. 'Dying Under Your Eyes, Discussion'. In: Dying Before Your Eyes, Screening & Discussion. Wellcome Collection, Londono, United Kingdom 10 October 2019. [Conference or Workshop Item]

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Abstract or Description

Helena Reckitt joined Stephen Wilson and Oreet Ashery for a discussion facilitated by Wellcome Collection curator George Vasey. The talk following a screening of Oreet Ashery's new film, 'Dying Under Your Eyes,' a family portrait of end-of-life care including footage from around the time of her father’s death.

In her response to the film, Reckitt highlighted Ashery's use of different video footage, from handheld smartphone shot from an intimate low angle to elegant pans taking in buildings and streets, and theatrical and speculative scenes that introduce elements of fantasy and haunting, foreshadowing and forensics. She considered how these elements of mediation and interpretation help give the viewer proximity to something as difficult yet ordinary as death and dying, while also creating a sense of distance. There is a self-consciousness about the way Ashery films inside her parents’ apartment, Reckitt noted, that creates moments of humour as well as tension between the artist and her family. Reckitt also emphasised Ashery’s focus on the work of her father’s carer, and the intimate knowledge she has about him as she carefully yet unobtrusively watches him move through the apartment and the neighbourhood. Ashery's father accepted his reliance on his carer. After his death, when Ashery's mother depended on her care, she, by contrast, found it hard to accept her codependence and loss of autonomy. During the Q&A an audience member remarked that the mother's experience is common to women and others who have shouldered the bulk of care duties.

Reckitt concluded by reflecting on her personal experiences of mourning, which Ashery's film provoked. She discussed the death of her own father fifteen years earlier, the sense of living apart and feeling out of touch and isolated as news of his precarious condition reached her when she lived overseas, and how she had initially resisted acknowledging how close he was to death. She related her final conversation with his father, by his hospital bed, the moments of tenderness and humour that existed between them. Reckitt also related Ashery’s account of wearing her father’s clothes during adolescence, and her affection for “his unusual softness,” to her own teenage appropriation of her father’s clothing, characterising both as queer identifications with the father.

Sharing other moments of personal resonance with the film, Reckitt suggested that its power lay in how it was both steeped in specific material details, yet enabled the viewer to revisit and process their own complex and painful experiences associated with loss and bereavement.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Panel)

Additional Information:

The screening was part of the public programme for 'Misbehaving Bodies,' a two-person exhibition of work by Oreet Ashery and Jo Spence, co-curated by Bárbara Rodríguez Muñoz and George Vasey.

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10 October 2019Completed

Event Location:

Wellcome Collection, Londono, United Kingdom

Date range:

10 October 2019

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Date Deposited:

14 Apr 2023 09:17

Last Modified:

14 Apr 2023 09:17



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