Kitra Cahana was born in 1987. Her artistic medium consists of: photography, text and video. She works as a freelance documentary photographer and videographer. She has a B.A. in philosophy from McGill University and a M.A. in Visual and Media anthropology from the Freie Universitat in Berlin.
Kitra is the recipient of numerous grants and awards, including two Canada Council Grants for the Visual Arts a 2016 TED Senior Fellowship, a 2015 Pulitzer Center for Investigative Reporting grant, a 2014-2015 artist residency at Prim Centre, the 2013 International Center of Photography’s Infinity Award, first prize for the 2010 World Press Photo, a scholarship at FABRICA in Italy and the Thomas Morgan internship at the New York Times. She is a contributing photographer to National Geographic Magazine.
Contact: [email protected] Instagram: @kitracahana
In the Summer of 2011, my father, Rabbi Ronnie Cahana of Montreal, had a brain stem stroke that left him locked-in, a mind trapped in a body; completely paralyzed except for the eyes, with all his cognitive abilities in tact. Through a methodology of blinking, he began composing poetry and sermons, with myself, my mother and siblings as his transcribers. We took shifts reciting the alphabet for hours on end. We wrote slowly, tenderly, allowing him to compose sermons, poems and essays letter by letter, blink by blink.
Since then he has regained his ability to breathe, to have slight movement of his limbs and the ability to speak with a waning voice. I focused my camera as he began regaining body, slowly coming back to life at the age of 57. I have continued to work with my father, transcribing and recording his experiences while also trying to find a visual language to express the spirituality of his experience. I am developing this series of images, audio and video for exhibition.
Due to the extreme nature of a brainstem stroke my father requires full-time care and additional assistance beyond what the nursing home can provide. A body that has had every system affected as severely as Rabbi Cahana’s needs hours of attention each day. If he isn’t moved on a daily basis and if physiotherapy is not maintained his body hardens, and the gains he has made are lost. We’ve seen it happen many times in the last three years, resulting in many complications. My father’s biggest dream is to gain enough functional movement so that the family can afford to bring him home. Our dream as a family is to improve his quality of life as much as possible in the trying circumstances, living an institutionalized life.
Please consider donating to the Rabbi Cahana Rehabilitation Fund: