Brian Doben Finds His Heart 'At Work'
When he was prepping for the latest chapter of his ongoing ‘At Work’ project, Brian Doben found out about The Alternative Limb Project by Sophie De Oliveira Barata that creates prosthetics for amputees that include beading, sculptural elements, and non traditional colors and textures. “She came across our radar as someone who was bringing art, bringing fashion, and bringing a sort of showiness to the artificial limb world,” explains Brian. “I was very intrigued by that because I thought it was amazing, the idea that you can have a missing limb and you don’t have to hide the ugly prosthetic, you can make that into something really impressionable to other people.” Barata offers the opportunity to wear something beautiful that can be shown off instead of hidden behind shame. This is close to Brian’s heart as he understands at least a piece of it after replacing some teeth he lost in a horrific bike accident. Brian was made whole once again thanks to the work of his doctors, and for this video he got to witness Barata help make other people whole once again. “I think there’s something really special about giving people that wholeness that’s really quite beautiful,” he says.
Brian’s ‘At Work’ project has been jamming for years now but this is the first time he’s brought a motion component to it. Film and photography, although artistic siblings, offer very different ways to tell stories, each with their strengths. For Brian, film was a great way to explore different ways of presenting the ‘At Work’ mission. “It’s a conversation, it’s people sharing their inner thoughts as to why they do what they do,” says Brian. “There’s something to be said about open conversation and the ability to just talk and share what’s going on inside their mind. It just was kind of this snowball effect, one thing lead to another lead to another.” That winding pathway of conversation is reflective of the winding pathway of a life, whether it’s a life being lived or a career being created in real time. Only so much can be planned, the rest reveals itself step by step.
That is the nature of human experience, underlined by his conversation with Matt, a cartoonist who has been creating work for The Daily Telegraph for years. “He is just the most hysterical man and beyond passionate. He is everything that ‘At Work’ stands for,” Brian says. “He is excited every day going to work, he is humbled by what he does.” One of the moments that stood out for Brian about his time with Matt, and something that Brian wanted to make sure was communicated to his audience, is what Matt has to say about the creative process. “We want to romanticize that ideas come to us, that there’s this moment where the clouds separate and the light has this euphoric moment and you have your idea,” Brian explains. “And Matt said something that was very true and I think people need to understand: we have to put as many ideas on paper as possible and most of them are rubbish. You have to cleanse the body until that one moment comes and that’s the moment that you seize.” Brian is quick to point to his own story with photography as an example of this phenomenon. He was a professional photographer for 15 years before he began his ‘At Work’ project, what is now the defining pillar of his career. Sometimes you have to work through everything else before you get to the heart of it.
The key is getting there.