Based on the storyboard of Doña Josefa that I drew a few weeks ago, I conceived the idea of a photographic project that takes as starting point this story and builds a set of images that more or less literally fits the story.
However, because the biggest difficulty that I found for the implementation of this project was to find a real person who fits the visual conditions that I had imagined, I decided to get in touch with an amateur theatre company and trying to “manufacture” scenes that matched the storyboard… Aside from my personal considerations, from a practical point of view, the project seemed to me that, in addition to technical difficulties, and was a kind of a pantomime not very faithful to the essence and sincerity of the original story…
In an attempt to save the essence of the project, it occurred to me that perhaps I could do a typology based on the idea of aging, how people feel when they are about 80 years old, personal perspectives and projects, etc … Oliver Sacks’s article for the magazine El País seemed to me quite inspiring, and I think it can become a good excuse to organize a future photographic project. The idea for the future is parked for the moment.
Today I come across two photographic works by Kaylynn Deveney, that seem to me a wonderful approach to the subject of old age, although with two totally different approaches. The first is “The Day-to-Day Life of Albert Hastings” in which the author narrates the life experience of an elderly widower through the daily activities of his daily life. The work has some resemblance to Julian Germain’s project “For Every Minute You Are Angry, You Lose Sixty Seconds Of Happiness,” though Deveney’s work accompanies each photograph with a subject’s own text that allows for a closer reading of the images To the reality and experience of the old man:
“Bert’s captions create a new context for my photographs, while some correspond to the thinking that shaped the image, others interpret the image in a different way, thereby adding a critical second perspective to this work.”
On the whole, I think the character of the work is positive, and although there is some look to the past, it is not a work impregnated with a nostalgic and depressive spirit. I do not think this is the typical moving and sensitive look at the life of an old man; I think he shares with Germain’s work a dynamic and hopeful vision of the old age: for example, the detail of the improvised vase in the window with the device to keep the flower upright, or the careful placement of the pijamas is a small prove of vitality and dignity. I think this will be an important reference for treating old age in a future photographic project.
As the author describes, as in any collaborative project, both parties are enriched during the process:
“At the end of this project Bert and I, of course, maintained our individual perspectives, but I think we were richer, too, for being informed by one another. I know I am.”
The character of her second project “Edith and Len” is completely different: it presents us with a vision of the most depressed and self-sacrificing old age, this elder couple between the four walls of a room where there are not many options but to wait patiently for death.