Nos Vieux (Our Old People)

 

"I have an excellent memory of the past. Of the past ! Not a memory of every minute and every moment of life. But it is true that I live above all in the past. I always have tended to live in the past. Because it was good. It was good, the past ... When we pass from the present to the past, we can change it ... We transform it in our imagination, and that's important. I could have done this, I could have done that. When we enjoy the past, it means that we manage to focus on good moments."

 

How old is my grandmother? I stopped to know it for several years. Or maybe I never really knew it. In my unconscious, my grandmother always had a bent back and a nicely wrinkled skin. She is certainly born that way.

 

The old people have this amazing ability to be completely one with the furniture that surround them, to be part of the scenery, as we use to say. Until they leave, too soon, too fast, and too unfairly, we think to ourselves, surprised to suddenly remember their ephemerality. And ours. They take with them memories and secrets away.

 

My grandmother has always been living in the past. Because it's better, she says. Because we can turn it to our liking. The present, she lives it from routines and habits that have become rituals. From the way she puts her makeup and style her hair every morning to how she ranks the dishes in the dishwasher, passing by the meals with my grandfather that she takes at the exact same time, the tea at 5pm, the organization of the fridge, it's the same theater play which is played every day.

 

It is, through this very personal series, about understanding the enigmatic character of my grandmother, but, also, to question, in a more general way, what it means to be old and at the end of his life in our Western societies. How do the old people continue to dress every morning knowing that their life is now "behind them", that they are now living on the on the sidelines of a society that no longer seems to need them?

 

Each of us, by his personal experiences, has a special relationship with old age. Over this project, to photograph my grandmother with my analog camera in this timeless scenery - the home of my grandparents - was, first of all, to grab what she would accept to give to me. And she gave me much more than I expected. She was happy that I photograph her, and left me immortalize her as she is today, without glitz or frills. Open heart. Going beyond her carnal envelope and showing me her trust, delivering me her inner beauty.

 

© Clémence Elman 

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