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The Long Disease: LA Stories by Fiona Hackett

The Long Disease: LA Stories by Fiona Hackett

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Publishing an obituary in the Los Angeles Times seems to transform the lives of ordinary people into something extraordinary and poignant. Through the narrow column of an obituary, we glimpse the everyday lives of Californians spanning the past century or so and the faces look out from the pages of the newspaper as if time had stood still - smiling, earnest, glamorous, fun, mysterious. Perhaps each individual would have merited a published memoir if fame had chanced to knock on their door? 

With big dreams and in times of optimism and promise, whether being lured to the edge of the continent by popular culture, or even counterculture, their aspirations lay in building a good life filled with new opportunities. Was simply embracing life in the sunshine as an Angeleno in itself enough to fulfil the dream? The gable wall murals of LA reflect the artifice of those dreams back to us. Its streetscapes, like the treasured portrait photographs and nostalgic biographies, blend together constructions of both the reality and myth of life in the Golden State.

Fiona Hackett is a visual artist/photographer focused on making work which explores the human condition through space and place. Following on from a body of work titled Terra Incognita centred on California’s seismically charged landscape, she began reading and collecting obituaries from the LA Times nearly a decade ago. This book continues her ongoing interest in California’s social history and the place itself and ultimately, it’s closely woven relationship with photography. Her work has been exhibited and published in Ireland and internationally.

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