Stephen Starkman’s photographs from his book The Proximity of Mortality: A Visual Artist’s Journey Through Cancer, are rooted in receiving a diagnosis of “incurable cancer.” With these 75 photographs, Starkman wants to “open a conversation on mortality/death as seen through first-hand experience . . . The book is about life from the perspective of death . . . The book also includes quotes from other cancer survivors, reinforcing recurring themes of fear, isolation, fatigue and the work of the journey itself.”
The three photographs shown here relate to Spence’s experience with the medical aspects of cancer, in which the human is confronted by—and can be consumed by—what the medical industry, with its high-tech and lower-tech machines, deems as “comfort” and/or “cure.” Both Spence and Starkman ask: how do we maintain our identity in the face of what the medical industry offers?
About This Site
A Picture of Health: Jo Spence, a Politics of Disability and Illness is a multi-pronged project curated by Kenny Fries and Elisabeth Frost.
In 1986 the British artist, educator, and activist Jo Spence (1934-1992) described the question fundamental to her work: “how to represent a body in crisis.” Spence’s work reveals powerful political and artistic responses to the experience of inhabiting such a body and is as timely as ever. This website places her work in the context of the lived experience of chronic illness and of contemporary Disability Arts.