Ghosts 2009

Ghosts – Mrs. White. Pencil drawing 61cm x 46cm

I wanted to pay tribute especially to those old people who do not live at home. They no longer count in society. This is where the portrait series Ghosts comes from. My friend agrees to let me accompany her to a sing-along group she leads in a dementia unit. I concentrate on tracing the endless routes of joy and sorrow on unfamiliar faces. The wrinkles tell about the past, all that is left are expressionless faces. “My Mom used to play the piano too sometimes, not very well, but we sang anyway,” a small woman with braided hair whispers, her eyes sparkling. I stop. I have never experienced anything like this. This fragile creature was carted into the room, uncertain about who she was or where she was. Now, for the duration of the familiar song, she is herself again. With a wide smile on her face, she grabs the lyrics floating in the air. Even if it is difficult to move, one can always dance by swinging one’s shoulders and slowly waving one’s fingers. I learn to know a colourful group of people, the angry Mrs. Green from Harlem, the former Broadway dancer, Rose, who is still a diva, and Mr. Walker and his assistant.