Hold Fast presents my mother, Tsyvia, a 99 year old who lives alone in a rental apartment and navigates her world with fierce independence. Tsyvia is resilient, clear-eyed about aging and all-too aware of her finite years ahead. Yet this knowledge does not hamper her going about her day with as much vigour and intention as she can muster.
This body of work counters the typical narrative on aging and represents the many unseen elder members of our society who live their lives as fully as possible despite the limitations of their bodies. The images were made over several years, from 2015 to 2022. They reveal the slow but inexorable changes that accompany aging. They also show that aging can be a very lonely time of life, as friends die and those that remain are often too incapacitated for social engagement. For Tsyvia, this reality has been painful, and isolating. However, she still greets the new day and her diminished world with the acceptance necessary to carry on.
It has been said that every photograph is a self-portrait; this idea is particularly true for the photos of Hold Fast. Photographing my mother brought into clear focus some of the issues I face about my own aging; observing Tsyvia’s journey towards the end of her life portends my own. Coming to terms with the changes in my face and body and my social circumstances requires an unsentimental pragmatism that is best modelled by my mother’s equanimity and grace.