Mai Poina

11″ x 14″ silver gelatin prints, 2009

When I was 19, my mother let it slip that my tutu had dementia while she was making a joke at a relative’s birthday party.  I was surprised, though I probably could’ve guessed her illness if I wanted.  But I was just a bystander to my tutu’s illness.  I did not experience the deterioration of her brain or her loss of short-term memory.  I saw the confusion on her face, reminded her of the day/year/time, I answered to my mother’s name, I heard her favorite childhood story twice an hour.

For this project, I narrated what I imagined to be my tutu’s experience with dementia by blending time and space, recent portraits and family snapshots.  Visualizing the disorientation of memory loss, the layered portraits create a sense of regression in her timeline where her presence in time is no longer anchored.

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