Taking Pause is a documentary, collaborative portrait project that asks people to reflect on what in their lives feels most essential. With what do we identify and connect most deeply? What truly matters to us and why?
The goal is to ask the same simple, thought-provoking question — what is irreplaceable to you — of the widest possible range of participants and to document the differences and commonalities of these reﬂections while engaging the spectrum of American diversity and disconnections, both political and economic.
This is a collaborative project because those who participate are more than passing subjects. In addition to sharing something of deep personal resonance, each participant also tells the story behind what they chose and engages others to take part in the project. Participants are documented in their home or place of their choosing with two distinct portraits. One of themselves, their physical selves, and an accompanying portrait of their reflective selves through what they have chosen to share. Each person is also asked to tell the story behind their selection, both orally, during the making of their portraits, and later, for the context of the long-term manifestation of the project as a book and exhibition, as a brief written text.
To advance and attain diversity in the series, each participant accepts some ownership in the project and, with thought and consideration, lays forward the collaboration by engaging one or two others to take part, helping to organically involve the spectrum of geographical regions and socioeconomic classes of the United States. The goal is to encompass the full range of our society, from the financially secure to the evicted to those who have lost everything in recent natural disasters.
Taking Pause is a collective project that aims to create an intimate glimpse of our country in a troubling and disconnected time. The United States, one of the wealthiest countries on earth, has a disparity in income that is unconscionable. We live in a period of incredible abundance but are we aware of what really matters? Many of us find ourselves struggling to find clarity in a sea of possessions that occupy our physical environment and block our mental space yet whose meaning is long lost or worse, never even existed. How we manage our mounting accumulation of possessions, and the inherent wastefulness of this in terms of material, time and natural resources, has become a huge societal problem — independent of means or situation.
Taking Pause combines photographs and stories in a visual and verbal narrative that explores both the complexities and simplicities of what we value. Participants are grateful to reflect and to share in this way. Thus far what people have shared is about deep memories and identity, not monetary value.
At a time when our country feels so torn and disconnected, Taking Pause aims to reconnect and place trust with those we don’t know. Participants are asked to host me when they are able so that we can spend some time getting to know each other and so that our interaction is about more than the making of the portraits and they are more than passing subjects. As such this project at its essence is about trust. The trust of participants in me to share something that is deeply personal as well as my trust in them to offer hospitality and to welcome me into their homes.
In our current society we are hyper “connected” in our dependency on devices, yet our lives have become increasingly hermetic and disconnected. Our communication and “social” activity has become more virtual than actual. Thus a crucial part of this project is its collaborative nature, which aspires to connect with people, share stories and spend time together. In short, to take pause, to reflect.