Noelle is an interactive video and sound installation that uses surveillance footage of my mother’s living room-cum-hospice during the 10 months that I cared for her, and a collection of archival inkjet prints: 10 video stills representing her last 10 months.
Early last year my mother Noelle Zeltzman, a Baltimore artist, was left for dead at her assisted living facility. After reviving her by placing a water-soaked sock in her mouth, I hastily moved her, my child, and myself to the house we had just emptied to sell and committed to caring for her 24 hours a day. In order to fulfill a previous commitment to a five-week video job in Massachusetts, I hired two 12-hour aides and installed an Arlo surveillance camera through which I could monitor her (and them) from my phone. The footage was stunning— the room curved by the fish eye lens, the light changing from white, blue, yellow, orange, and to black-and-white when the camera switched to infrared at dark. Unable to leave her, isolated from my community, and overwhelmed, I chose to treat the experience as a living art project and continued the surveillance. Now, sorting through hours of video and audio footage that document her steady return to the womb— legs crossed, elbows locked, hands clenched, knees bent, hips and trunk flexed— I am watching myself witness the process of death while participating in my own.