About Janet Cook
180 days was inspired by an email received June 5, 2004 just before my 30th high school reunion. I had been noticing that with aging comes the odd juxtaposition of routine, providing a sense of stability, normalcy, and consistency that holds time at bay, and the passing of time evidenced in the mundane of clothing fraying, sofa cushions reshaped over years, the changing landscape of skin, face, and body.
Captivated by Warren's description of concentrating "our whole retirement into 180 days," I set out to map the contours of my own routine, the expected and unexpected, in the context of 180 days. I hoped to find the visual moments that for me are at repetition's center where the sound and breath of who I love and who I have become reside.
Shortly after beginning this work summer of 2004, I realized that I could not complete the project without moving through the weather and seasons of Warren's 180 days. Early in 2005, I was teaching an intensive four-week Digital Photography course during a series of snow storms. Between shoveling out, the commute, and teaching class everyday, there wasn't much time leftover, and in mid-January I realized I had "missed" a number of snowy days. It was with some pleasure that I also recognized that my students had been documenting many poignant and powerful winter moments as we worked together through most of January. Inviting my students to participate in this project by including their images as particular days is a topographical detail important to my mapping.
Working on this project, I became acutely aware of the nuances of changing season in details that I have never before observed with such intensity. Early on, Warren sent me an email in which he said "I like your project. It reminds me of an advent calendar -- you know the kind with the little surprises behind tiny folding doors." It was with sadness that I noticed in my response that an Advent calendar counts down the days until birth and this project counts down the days until death. But I've also discovered doing this work that life--birth--is present in all things, even in death. Looking very closely is the key.
I return on June 2, 2005 to where I left off a year ago, creating individual days, this time in a hospital room the first week of my summer break while my partner was in surgery and is now sleeping in the bed around which everything in this room is focused. The nurses come and go with digital devises that measure the body numerically while I count with Warren, knowing that every day is all there is. Unlike Warren, we will leave the hospital together and pick up the threads of our routine, able to look forward to life continuing on as it has before.
It is with deep gratitude that I dedicate this work to Warren and Janet Cook.