Mustafah Abdulaziz (b. 1986) is an American documentary photographer. Over the last three years he has taken road trips across the United States to work on a series of pictures called Memory Loss. By using road trips as the vehicle to leaf through chance encounters, he attempts to craft a short story solely from the pages he relates to. His work invites the viewer to land on his page and address a commonality in how we live and what we think is important. He has been a member of the international photography collective MJR since 2008. In 2010 he worked as the first contract photographer for The Wall Street Journal. In 2012 he was named one of PDN’s 30 New and Emerging Photographers to Watch. He is currently developing two other projects from where he is based in Berlin, Germany.
On her first visit to the French hospital in 2007, photographerMaja Danielsnoticed two elderly residents trying to get her attention through the port-hole-shaped windows of a hallway door. Links backlinks blog comments . The door, she later discovered, was the entrance to a locked Alzheimers ward and the patients who lived there were to become the subjects of a three-year documentary-photography project that recently helped earn Daniels a spot in the 2012 Joop Swart Masterclass a mentorship program organized by World Press Photo.
The final collection of photographs of the ward and its residents, titledInto Oblivion,is an effort to convey the daily life and struggles of the French Alzheimers patients, while also bringing up issues surrounding geriatric care.I want to motivate people to think about current care policies and the effects it can have on somebodys life, Daniels said.
Because Alzheimers disease causes memory loss and confusion, Daniels could not get consent directly from the patients she photographed. Instead, she spent nearly two years clearing authorizations with the hospital and the families and legal guardians of the residents. Daniels also had to consider the ethics of documenting subjects who were not able to fully understand what she was doing.I felt very uncomfortable at times, she said. I justified my presence by spending most of the time in the ward with the residents, just like any other volunteer.
Daniels spent many hours just sitting with residents while she tried to find a dignified way to present them and their situation. The end result of these efforts is a collection of simply composed photographs that are both beautiful and heartbreaking.
Chipped and worn from years of escape attempts, the door through which Daniels originally encountered the ward is a central theme in her photographs. Residents are pictured peeking through its glass, rapping on its windowpanes or jiggling its white plastic handle.
Sometimes a resident can remain by the door for hours trying to open it, Daniels explained. It becomes the center of attention by the residents who wonder why it is closed and why they are unable to open it.
After completing the series, Daniels shared her pictures with the French ward’s staff and residents’ families. Shenoted that staff members were surprised by the photographs of the door. They had never contemplated its symbolic value and had just seen it as a necessity, said Daniels. “The images led to important discussions around notions such as care and selfhood.”
Maja Daniels is a London-based photographer. She was recently chosen to participate in the 2012 Joop Swart Masterclass in Amsterdam. See more of her work here.
Polly Gaillard comes to photography with a camera bag full of life experiences that she mines for series that include themes of motherhood, children, memory, loss and family. She manages to find the intangible poignancy and undiscovered beauty in living life that is layered and complex. I am featuring her project, Reframing; Motherhood, Memory and Loss. These color images reflect personal life transitions and observations.
Polly received a Master of Fine Arts in Visual Arts from Vermont College of Fine Arts in 2010 and currently teaches photography at Anderson University in South Carolina. She is also an Artist-Teacher for Vermont College of Fine Arts. In Summer of 2012, Polly will be teaching photography in Prague for the University of New Orleans Prague Summer Seminars.
Polly has exhibited widely and her exhibitions for 2012 include Reframing; Motherhood, Memory and Loss at the Vandiver Gallery at Anderson University in Anderson, SC and in a group exhibit entitled Alignments at Clemson University’s Lee Gallery in Clemson, SC.
Reframing; Motherhood, Memory and Loss:
Reframing; Motherhood, Memory and Loss is a photographic series documenting my daughter after my divorce from her father. I am interested in the awkward moments we share, some constructed and others observed as she plays and is unaware of the camera. I am also interested in how the divorce plays out in our lives both in subtle and startling ways as I observe her through windows, behind a sofa pillow, or in the shadow of my house. The awkwardness of childhood surprises me as I record fragments of her body through the lens. To me, those fragments refer to the severing of the family unit. I am intrigued by this half-life we share due to custody obligations. She is here and then she is gone.
My process of that exploration shifted to one of documentation including photographing remnants of her presence, or what remains after the presence is absent from the scene. Basically, I am interested in how one’s daily actions accrue meaning, or stand in for that person despite their absence. These remnants take shape of ordinary things: a plastic bag that contained chocolate, Barbie dolls in the bathtub, or the remains of breakfast in the late morning light. The remnants, either photographed or scanned become a marker of life left by a physical presence, in this case they represent the presence of my young daughter.
The physical remains are obsessively collected and documented in a way that refers to the difficulty of letting go and the thoughts of loss that follow. My interaction with the remnants is a way to preserve it through the photograph, committing it to memory. The photographs strive to monumentalize the remnants and comment on the significance of loss, memory and absence.