My grandmother Vera was diagnosed with dementia when she became 80 years old. From that time on her consciousness has been ever so slowly fading.
Prior to photographing Vera I never dared documenting people. Partly, I hesitated to point the camera to people’s faces; but also because of the untrue expressions "those faces" often adopted "thanks" to social media and a general awareness of a public image.
Being a "fly-on-the-wall" is an utmost desire for many photographers. I am living it while photographing my grandmother. Sometimes she’ll ask whether I am taking a picture of her, sometimes she won't notice. Other times she’ll give me a smile - an innocent happiness expression, the face of an angel descended from the sky.
There are times when she is aware of her progressing disease, helplessness and dependency on other people. This makes her sad, angry and even depressed. She then complains about her condition, asking to call for a doctor or even to help her to leave this world behind.
When we walk together she rarely talks or asks for anything, just holds my hand. During these moments I lose connection with the reality around me. Her touch and her silence get me soaked into her inner world. Sometimes she wouldn’t recognize me as her grandson and I imagine myself as a paleontologist looking through the fossils of her distorted memory trying to make sense of what is left, attempting to put the pieces together for her.
Though she is having constant drug treatment which is supposed to stimulate the brain activity, her oblivion only gets worse. ‘Vera’ means ‘faith’. It seems to be life’s bitter irony that as her condition deteriorates, we, her family, lose faith in ever retrieving the person we used to know. We are losing our Vera, our Faith.
The act of photography allows me to ground Vera’s ephemeral yet so present being into her surroundings. Perhaps it's my attempt to keep Faith alive for a little bit longer.
Not unlike the detached memories of my grandmother, execution of this project took place inconsistently during several months in 2021 and 2022 in Azerbaijan between Baku city,
where my grandmother lives and Nabran, a village in the northeastern part of Azerbaijan located on the coastline of the Caspian sea.