October 24 – March 1, 2020
“My husband won’t tell me his first name.” Judy, Parkinson’s dementia
I am a neurologist and this is a long-term project about dementia, which includes portraits, natural illusions and images of perceptions paired with quotes from my patients. I would never have predicted that at this stage in my career I would be seeing so many people with dementia. When I was in medical school in the 1980s there were about 700, 000 people with dementia in this country, now there are nearly 6 million. That number will triple by mid-century and if we live long enough one in three of us will develop dementia and one in two of us will care for someone with dementia. By mid-century it will cost the U.S $1.2 trillion. One disease will wipe out the Medicare budget. We must deal with this reality from a sociocultural and economic standpoint because there is no cure in sight. It is the single greatest epidemic that industrialized countries will face. It is our destiny.
Because there is no cure or effective treatment, and I see people with dementia on a daily and long-term basis, I wanted to use photography to get to know my patients a little better, and for them to know me a little better. I will go to their home, spend a few hours with them and when they come back to see me in my clinic some of them know me not as their neurologist but as a friend that came to their home and made pictures. It’s a more social visit, less stressful, we know each other better and Ican do my job a little better. What else is there?
I would like you to look at these images as if it was you, or someone close to you. How would you like to be cared for when your time comes? -VD
Virgil DiBiase (b.1963) lives in rural Indiana with his wife and two donkeys. He is a photographer, part time farm hand and full-time neurologist. His parents were Italian immigrants who moved to rural Salem Ohio in the 1950s, 15 miles from Youngstown Ohio. He grew up in the woods, surrounded by nature. His father was a photographer and taught him how to develop B&W film and make gelatin silver prints in the basement darkroom. Back then everything was in B&W: TV, magazines, newspapers and photography. Black and white photography was his first language and so he continues to work in B&W. And he continues to walk in the woods with his camera.
He has exhibited his work in many juried group shows including Griffin Museum of Photography, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, Colorado Photographic Arts Center, Edition One Gallery, Soho Photo Gallery and Providence Center for Photographic Arts. He’s been published in B&W magazine, LFI Magazine, Burn Magazine, The Cresset, and recently PBS News hour, Brief but Spectacular. He’s had solo shows at the Rangefinder Gallery in Chicago, Strimbu Gallery at Valparaiso University and the Workspace Gallery in Lincoln Nebraska. He’s been short listed twice for the Royal Photographic Society International Print Exhibition and has been a Critical Mass Finalist for the last 3 years.