Artist Sage Lovell releases new series on being deaf in Canada during a pandemic
Deaf, what? profiles 8 Canadians who are deaf or hard of hearing
A new series from artist Sage Lovell puts the spotlight on Canadians who are deaf or hard of hearing through a series of conversations recorded with photographer Alice Lo during the pandemic.
Deaf, what? started in 2017 as a cross-country journey to tell the stories of 52 deaf Canadians.
Lovell, who uses the pronouns they/them, wanted to see more representation of deaf Canadians — in all facets of their lives.
By the time they were done travelling from coast to coast, they had heard stories of love, grief, language learned, careers found, businesses started and some uniquely deaf experiences: establishing Queer ASL and competing in the Deaflympics.
It was the first time Lovell had done a project on this scale, and it took six months to put together for both hearing and deaf audiences.
"We also had to transcribe and caption videos, which could take two hours and a half for a 15-minute clip," they say.
American Sign Language and English don't directly translate; interpretation involves paying attention to body language and facial expression as well as aspects of the speaker. Even sentence structure, articles and other aspects of the languages are very different. It can make stories about deaf and hard of hearing Canadians more difficult to tell.
"It's really great to feature a lot of untold stories and [show] the beauty of the deaf community," Lovell says.
This summer, after the pandemic hit, they and Lo checked back in with a handful of the people they spoke to for the original Deaf, what? and started a new project.
They did eight more interviews remotely and went through the lengthy process of having them interpreted. And then they put them together as a video series.
"This series will be ongoing, hopefully with adequate funding and community support," says Lovell. "To non-deaf audiences, I hope that people can learn that deaf people are normal people just like the rest of us. We come from every community that exists."
You can watch the full series here.
À lire en français sur le site de Radio-Canada.
This story is part of Digital Originals, an initiative of the Canada Council for the Arts. Artists were offered a $5,000 micro-grant to either adapt their existing work or create new work for the digital world during the COVID-19 pandemic. CBC Arts has partnered with Canada Council to feature a selection of these projects.You can see more of these projects here.