Below, I share a selection of photographs in which I have periodically photographed my father during his daily endeavors. He, who suffers greatly from emotional instability and a mental illness, has given us the opportunity to peek into the chaotic emotions that one faces when living with and confronting bipolar disorder.
The images are accompanied by a collection of voicemails dating back to 2013, my senior year of college—a time when I was facing up to and accepting my childhood traumas, battling an amphetamine addiction, while staying determined to graduate. Occupied with my own obstacles and suffering bouts of severe depression and anxiety, I shunned my father, causing our relationship to become borderline mute.
It has taken me eight years to build up the courage to ask my dad to participate in such a heart-wrenching exercise; one in which he will have to accept his illness every time he hears the shutter sound. After so many years of avoiding confrontation, this would be my attempt to mend two broken hearts. By turning the camera toward my father and my relationship with him, I capture his behavior as an echo of my own emotional responses; sometimes I step back, and sometimes I engage. The images function as an ongoing conversation.
In the last image of my selection, I am proud to shine the light on Project Semicolon; a “non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and love for those who are struggling with mental illness, suicide, addiction, and self-injury” and to emphasize that a story is in fact, not over.
Through this photographic process, I am allowed uniquely confidential access into my subject's world. The intimacy in which the photographs occur, speaks to the subject’s generosity in sharing his life and privacy with a public audience.
subtitles / translation:
Hi Gabriela this is Maggie from the psychological services center returning your phone call. Um, feel free to give the office a call back if you have some questions. I understand you might want to make an appointment. The number here is 315-443-____. Thank you.
At the tone, please record your message. When you are finished recording, you may hang up or press 1 for more options (beep)…
Zoé please…why don’t you answer my calls? Anyway, I hope you call me back…
Hello Zoé, sweetie, you’ve abandoned me!
Zoé, give me a call back.
Hi Zoé, give me a call back.
Hello! Um, Gabriela I’ve left you voicemails… Um, there's a lot of silence… You know that silence speaks. I don't know what's going on… Um, anyway, I hope that at some point, you call me back. Ok. Bye. Kisses. Bye. I love you. Bye.
Hi this message is for Gabriela, um your case here at the clinic was assigned to me for psychotherapy, so if you're still interested in pursuing that here, um, you can go ahead and give us a call back at 315-443-____
© GABI PÉREZ 2017