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“regard”

/ʁə.ɡaʁ/ verb 1. consider or think of (someone or something) in a specified way.

                                                                

When my daughter was born fourteen years ago, I was told that she had the “physical markers” for Down syndrome. A few days later, the diagnosis of trisomy 21 was confirmed with a simple blood test. Today Luigia is a thriving and lively teenager, yet these “markers” have grown with her, and her disability remains visible to the outside world. As we try to go about our ordinary lives in our community--getting ice cream after school, going grocery shopping or walking to the local library--I often catch people staring, gawking, or side-glancing at her, at us. Even though their gaze feels invasive, I perceive it as more questioning than judging, at least most of the time. With this on-going series “regard,” I am answering their question with a window into our reality. To emphasize control over my message, these everyday tableaux are meticulously set, lit up, and purposefully developed in black and white. Their composition expresses routine acts in which I address the viewers directly: look at us bathing; look at us grooming; here we are at bedtime; this is us on a random day at the beach. In each scene, the viewers are plunged into the outside perspective. At first glance, it may seem that I am offering us as vulnerable prey to their judgement, yet in fact I am guarding our lives, and the viewers are caught gawking--my direct gaze at the camera. Through the direct, return gaze, I am the one in control as I establish a relationship with the viewers, and their motive is questioned. In "regard" I strive to claim the normalcy of Luigia’s life, one image at a time.