Chappaqua, New York. March 2013.
Howie and Laurel Borowick embrace in the bedroom of their home.
In their thirty-four year marriage, they never could have imagined
being diagnosed with stage-4 cancer at the same time. © Nancy Borowick. 1 / 2       Chappaqua, New York. March 2013. Howie and Laurel Borowick embrace in the bedroom of their home. In their thirty-four year marriage, they never could have imagined being diagnosed with stage-4 cancer at the same time. © Nancy Borowick.

A Life in Death

Touching. Perhaps this is the first adjective that comes to mind thinking back to the exhibition of Nancy Borowick set up at the former Chiesa dell’Angelo in Lodi as part of the exhibition section In-depth analysis area, organised by the Festival of Ethical Photography on the occasion of its seventh edition.
A Life in Death is indeed a photo feature that tells the story of a family, that of the author, and that documents one of the toughest periods that she herself, and with her the entire household, has had to deal with, namely the illness and death of her parents. A hard story, that talks of love, of life and of death. And how it is possible to face it without giving in to terror, continuing together on a road paved with pain and difficulty, unexpected joys and profound messages, step after step.

Howie calls these “his and hers” chairs. He sits beside Laurel, his wife of thirty-four years, as they get their weekly chemotherapy treatments, side by side at Oncologist Dr. Barry Boyd’s office. Greenwich, Connecticut. January, 2013. © Nancy Borowick.
Howie calls these “his and hers” chairs. He sits beside Laurel, his wife of thirty-four years, as they get their weekly chemotherapy treatments, side by side at Oncologist Dr. Barry Boyd’s office. Greenwich, Connecticut. January, 2013. © Nancy Borowick.

Howie and Laurel Borowick have indeed fought against an advanced stage of cancer in the same period. A battle that they fought side-by-side supporting and taking care not only about each other but the whole family, and that their daughter has documented in every aspect until the tragic end. Howie was the first to leave, he died on 7th December 2013; exactly one year and one day after doctors diagnosed the tumour. After a lifetime spent together, Laurel suddenly finds herself alone, a widow, in the tunnel of a disease, which marks the destiny of those who face it without leaving too much room for hope. From that moment her efforts tripled, but her energy fades always more and, with her, the vital push. But despite the mourning, the worsening of the condition of her mother, the pain and adversity that flock to her relentlessly, Nancy does not stop taking photographs.

Starting new rounds of chemotherapy, Howie and Laurel take a quick trip to Florida. Life is about to change dramatically for the Borowick family, and one quick escape from realty was necessary for the mind and body. Naples, Florida. January, 2013. © Nancy Borowick.
Starting new rounds of chemotherapy, Howie and Laurel take a quick trip to Florida. Life is about to change dramatically for the Borowick family, and one quick escape from realty was necessary for the mind and body. Naples, Florida. January, 2013. © Nancy Borowick.

Her father's death marks a sort of fracture in her storytelling by images. Almost a break, a full stop which takes on the form of a coffin in the foreground and a multitude of people lined up in the pews of a synagogue. From here on the narrative time slows down, the tone and shots change. The images become gradually darker, close-up, revealing all the weight of absence difficult to handle for the whole family, but especially for Laurel, who increasingly exhausted by the effects of the disease, passes away on 6th December 2014. Nancy follows her mother until the last instant, with the heart of a daughter and the respectful eye of the true professional. One sudden movement of Laurel’s chest now almost totally unable to rise to leave room for breath, then again the picture of a coffin in the synagogue realised by the same camera angle and with more or less the same people on the other side. The narrative time changes again, the tones are opened: Howie and Laurel Borowick are gone, but their legacy to their children is large enough to allow them to come to terms with the void.

Nancy Borowick during the guided tour of her exhibition A Life in Death, set up at the former Chiesa dell'Angelo in Lodi. © FPmag.
Nancy Borowick during the guided tour of her exhibition A Life in Death, set up at the former Chiesa dell'Angelo in Lodi. © FPmag.

Touching and poignant, why deny it. However, it is not among the tears that one finds the most authentic and profound meaning of this work, born of the author's intimate need to cling to the photographic writing to cope with the pain. As she explains in the same introductory text of the exhibition, and in more detail in the video published at the beginning, «I photographed my parents to hold on to their memory, and to capture their essence and strength in such a trivial time. Everyone wants to find purpose in his or her life. My parents’ final purpose was found in this moment, in this gift that they gave to me: allowing me to tell their story — a love story — and the story of our family and the legacy they have left behind. When time stops, what was all of this for? They did it for us». Almost a will, therefore, a legacy that to us, mere spectators of this story, allows us to reflect on deep existential questions, and on that thread that unites the words memory and photography. [ Stefania Biamonti ]

- - -
A LIFE IN DEATH
by Nancy Borowick
Ex Chiesa dell’Angelo, via Fanfulla, 22 - Lodi (Italy)
8 – 30 October 2016
admission fee: 12,00 € (for all exhibitions)

Fujifilm Italia.


The video interview with Nancy Borowick and the photo of the guided tour have been realised with equipment provided by Fujifilm Italy.


_ _ _

[ INTERNAL RESOURCES ]
[ FPtag ] Festival of Ethical Photography 2016: the editorial staff point of view
[ video ] WRA 2016: data and perspectives: interview with Aldo Mendichi
[ exhibitions ] Snapshots of a utopia by Francesco Comello

[ meltingpot ] Fujifilm Italia and the culture of the image
◉ [ exhibitions ] The Ku Klux Klan by Peter Van Agtmael

◉ [ video ] A project for schools: interview with Laura Covelli
◉ [ video ] The confirmation of an ethics: interview with Alberto Prina
◉ [ events ] Festival of Ethical Photography 2016
◉ [ contest ]
World.Report Award 2016: the winners
[ contest ] World.Report Award 2016: finalists
[ contest ] World.Report Award 2016: rules
[ FPtag ] Festival of Ethical Photography 2015: the editorial staff point of view

[ EXTERNAL RESOURCES ]
Festival of Ethical Photography
Nancy Borowick
Fujifilm Italia

published on 2016-11-03 in NEWS / EXHIBITIONS

FFE FFE2016 FujifilmItalia StefaniaBiamonti






more in EXHIBITIONS



recent news



FPmag

editor in chief Sandro Iovine | sandro.iovine@fpmagazine.eu - senior writer Stefania Biamonti | stefania.biamonti@fpmagazine.eu - web developer Salvatore Picciuto | info@myphotoportal.com - linguistic coordination Nicky Alexander - translations Nicky Alexander, Rachele Frosini - contributor Davide Bologna, Mimmo Cacciuni Angelone, Laura Marcolini, Stefano Panzeri, Pio Tarantini, Salvo Veneziano - local Lazio correspondent Dario Coletti local Sardinian correspondent Salvatore Ligios - local Sicilian correspondent Salvo Veneziano - editorial office via Spartaco, 36 20135 Milano MI | redazione@fpmagazine.eu - phone +39 02 49537170 - copyright © 2015 FPmag - FPmag is a pubblication of Machia Press Publishing srl a socio unico, via Cristoforo Gluck, 3 20135 Milano MI - VAT no. 07535000967 C.F. (TAX code) 07535000967 - Copyright © 2015 FPmag - Registered at Tribunale di Milano No. 281 on the 9th September 2014

about | newsletter | cookies, privacy, copyright