I want to make a portrait of Mahmah (Grandma)
C-type hand prints, set of 38, 2018
I want to keep that moment, or seize the feeling of how it should be, I try.
This work reveals the hand-print process for the last portrait of my Grandma made in the series Mahmah and Yeye’s Portraits. I spent most of the time in the darkroom during that period, testing out the prints in darkness. I didn’t know it would gradually turn out to be a farewell at the beginning, but the hand print process of this series happened along this gradual farewell to my grandmother.
The last portrait of my Grandma was taken one day after our family dinner. She fell asleep on the wheelchair while we were taking her back to the home for aged. That night, she looked a lot more older and tired. Perhaps there’s a feeling of aging and at the same time sacredness in her gesture at that moment, or some other reasons I didn’t realize, I took that a picture of her with my phone. Later on, I decided to re-photograph the digital photo with a film camera, and hand print the portrait in the darkroom. I zoomed into the photo, letting the pixels to stay on the film negatives.
It starts from a feeling to remember people close to me through spending time and physically involving in the printing process. Then it gradually turns to a way to deal with my insecurity along the deteriorating health condition of my grandmother during that period of time. I just wanted to stay in the darkroom and focus on her photos, involving my physical body and contemplations in the dark silence inside darkroom. No lights, even red lights, are allowed in the hand-print process of C-type prints. I remember searching for the right direction in the complete darkness, and silently counting time. It’s a process of repeated variations to capture a certain obscure feeling, and a process to calm myself through spending all the time focusing on this portrait of my grandmother. There’s a process involving my physical body and space, behind the camera, behind the photo, that would stay with me.