Chelsea MacLachlan

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Public Project
Unaccompanied - South Africa
Credits: chelsea maclachlan
Updated: 09/08/10

This project explores the possibilities that 'the photograph' can play in modern day situations of separation and death.

The project “un.accompanied” looks at the notion of death and separation within Southern Africa. Here, death becomes ‘normalized’ as death rates are high due to the prevalence of disease; in addition to this is the increasing geographical separation and migrancy amongst family due to economic and political issues.

Having identified death and seperation as two immense issues within the Southern African social arena, I have embarked on a project which considers separation at the time of death as an issue which demands attention. Within this fragile terrain the project looks at the issues of memorialisation, closure and mourning as well as the role photography can play within it.

This project is about the process – one whereby photography is not only about documenting and creating awareness but also acting positively to affect the issues at hand. As a photographer I offered to make portraits of those who are terminally ill and facing the end of their lives alone, away from home and without the support of family. After photographing them I travelled to their families and gave them this portrait. This does not solve the issue but allows for a restoration of memory, dignity, humanity and a space for mourning which is crucial to dealing with loss.