A question I often think about as a storyteller and social artist living with a disability is: How can I create meaningful human connections without over-emphasizing or ignoring health and social challenges? What resulted was Progression, an interactive multi-sensory installation reflecting narratives of people living with multiple sclerosis fused with biodata and MRI scans. From dealing with cognitive decline and unpredictability to navigating the dating world, each participant had agency over their story and chose how they would like to be seen. I also recorded and sonified the brainwaves of participants while they were being interviewed about their portraits, challenging the idea that biodata can only be used to find symptoms. Whether it’s listening with your fingertips or feeling through sound, I invite the audience to be open to the possibility of connection, empathy and understanding through multiple senses.
Salima Punjani is a social artist based in Montreal, Quebec. She is interested in using multimedia storytelling to explore intersections between science and art. Her recent projects include Konbit Anba Soley, an interactive documentary exploring a social movement in Cité Soleil, Haiti as well as Moms of Montreal, a photographic storytelling project that provides an intimate glimpse into the lives, recipes, and stories of different families in Montreal. A key element in Salima’s recent work is ensuring people actively participate as both subjects and viewers. Her work has been exhibited in Quebec City, Montreal, Vancouver, Ethiopia, and Japan.