OLIVIA PARKER: VANISHING IN PLAIN SIGHT
April 21st – August 31st, 2019
[V]anishing in Plain Sight” is my imagination’s journey through my husband John’s continual changes due to Alzheimer’s disease. I began with tangible things: the notes he wrote to help him remember and the office supplies he feared would be gone. When a subject or a camera moves during an exposure the subject disappears partially or entirely. I found that this characteristic of photography was well suited to the images I wanted to create next. As John became more and more disconnected from the world around him my photographs began to depart from what my eyes saw. The assumed connection between photography and reality remains giving voice to my imagined images.
As soon as I had about 20 photographs I began writing short texts to go with them. I then made a small online book of the images and texts and began giving them to friends. The gifts unleashed a torrent of conversation about a subject that people often find hard to talk about. John never acknowledged that he had Alzheimer’s. The day he wrote it down the doctor asked him to do it and spelled it out for him. He did not want me to tell anyone there was something wrong with him. Caregivers who feel that they cannot talk to others about a spouse or parent’s condition can become more and more isolated.
Since the time of John’s diagnosis I have tried to learn about the human brain, its’ unfathomable complexity and beauty of structure. Although I will only ever know a small fraction of evolving neuroscience, I have learned enough to have a little understanding of the research being done on Alzheimer’s. After so many years of working with light I like the new idea that the application of light at a specific frequency is repairing neural connections in mice, enabling them to retrieve lost memories.