November Narrative Medicine Rounds with Marvin Heiferman

"WHY WE LOOK: COVID and LOSS, PHOTOGRAPHY and CONSOLATION," a talk with Marvin Heiferman

For our November Rounds, we are thrilled to welcome Marvin Heiferman, photographer, writer, and curator, who will speak to us about grief and its work through photography and representation. After Heiferman's husband Maurice Berger's COVID-related death in March 2020 − when grief struck and as words failed him − Marvin Heiferman suspected photography wouldn’t. Since then, daily postings of images and their accompanying captions on his Instagram account (@whywelook) have functioned as intimate, frontline reports on the experience and processing of grief. Widely viewed and written about, his online project has engaged thousands in a communal dialog. Chris Wiley of The New Yorker writes, "with his photographs, Heiferman makes visible grief’s persistent ache, its loneliness, and its moments of poignant remembrance...Heiferman describes the images that he’s created since Berger’s death as representing 'the act of remembering itself.' In that sense, his project is a tribute not only to his own grief but to the aftermath of love and loss more generally. His pictures speak to what we can hold on to and what, horribly, is lost forever." 

Heiferman writes and organizes exhibitions and online projects about photography and visual culture for venues that have included: The Museum of Modern Art, Smithsonian Institution, International Center of Photography, Whitney Museum of American Art and the New Museum.  Author of 15 books including Photography Changes Everything (2012 Smithsonian/Aperture) and Seeing Science (2019 Aperture/UMBC), Heiferman has contributed essays to numerous artist monographs, museum catalogs, trade publications, magazines and media outlets including The New York Times, CNN, Artforum, Design Observer, Aperture, Art in America, and BOMB

Headshot of Gail Haliban standing in an art gallery

Heiferman will be joined by moderator Gail Albert Halaban. Halaban is an internationally exhibited artist with an BA from Brown, and an MFA from Yale. Her work is in private and museum collections around the globe.  In collaboration with Dr. Ben Schartz, she facilitates a program at Columbia called "StudioLab" in the Department of Narrative Medicine where she incorporates art programming and studying for Medical School students and faculty. Her most well known series of work is called "Out My Window" where she photographs from one window to another window with the consent of all the residents of the buildings.

Narrative Medicine Rounds are monthly rounds on the first Wednesday of the month during the academic year hosted by the Division of Narrative Medicine in the Department of Medical Humanities and Ethics at Columbia University Irving Medical Center. Rounds are supported by live captioning. If you have any other accessibility needs or concerns, please contact the Office of Disability Services at 212-854-2388 or at least 10 days in advance of the event. We do our best to arrange accommodations received after this deadline but cannot guarantee them. A recording of our Virtual Narrative Medicine rounds will be distributed via email only to those who registered for the event for a limited period. Please note that the link will remain available for 30 days, and please do not share this link with anyone as it is exclusive only to those registered for the event.