Benedict is the voice of Don’t Take Them for Granted, an art installation dedicated to medical staff and all those in the pandemic’s front line. Check out the video below:
The artists involved explained how and why the project came to be:
Don’t Take Them for Granted is a public project initiated by the UNFINISHED community that includes images and texts captured by artists Cristian Movilă and Capucine Gros, between March and August 2020. The photographs and writings document over 70 hours documenting the fight against COVID-19, captured right in the heart of the intensive care units of Bucharest’s main public hospitals: Institutul Național de Boli Infecțioase “Prof. Dr. Matei Balș” Hospital, Spitalul Militar ROL 2, and Spitalul Universitar de Urgență.
With a voice-over by actor Benedict Cumberbatch and two additional short films presented by artist Alfredo Jaar, the project is a collective call to recognize the labor of this global pandemic’s frontline workers and, most specifically, the Romanian healthcare staff, otherwise invisible in the public space. As the artists explained, “in a social context that has a very hierarchical view of the medical world, Don’t Take Them for Granted focuses especially on the enormous routine effort hidden under the layers of our medical system. Too often eclipsed behind the doctors is an army of labor-intensive work (nurses, porters, assistants, cleaners, interns, technicians, clerks, couriers, guards…) who, in this time of violent need, deserve much more than being taken for granted. In the words of Cristian Movilă, “we chose to set up the installation in a public square to bring the reality behind the medical gates in the middle of society and to encourage people to have this conversation and realize that, only by taking care of each other, can we get over this.”
Beyond this critical gesture, Don’t Take Them for Granted also aims to tie very human and relatable bonds between the medical staff and the rest of society. Countering the severe isolation forced by this crisis, this project connects people using the strongest and most direct kinds of bonds: family relationships. Capucine Gros details that “remembering that we are all somebody’s child, for instance, is a very simple and accessible idea, yet, on a deeper level, it makes us envision each other as a network of invisible dependencies, rather than as a single person. In this kind of emergency, we desperately need such a level of community awareness and empathy.”
On the project’s website, we could also find how Benedict joined it:
Benedict Cumberbatch was shooting a new film in New Zealand when Cristian started sending him photos from his reporting inside the hospitals, back in March. Over the following few months, while the pandemic in New Zealand got more and more under control, the situation in Romania and most parts of the world worsened. Benedict recorded this voice-over out of care and friendship, in the spirit of reminding the world to be kind during this crisis and the many more we will face.
The installation is open to the public for two weeks since last Friday, 9 October, in George Enescu Square in Bucharest but screenings can only be attended under safe-distancing conditions.
To find out more about the project, please visit notforgranted.org.