My grandmother was a dragon. A token of authority, dignity, honour and success, those born into the year of the dragon are considered highly lucky. At 90 years of age she was mother to eight, grandmother to eighteen, great-grandmother to ten and counting—and a sufferer of late-stage Alzheimer’s Disease.
Forget Me Not 勿忘我 (2015-2019) portrays my experience over multiple trips to visit my maternal grandmother, Kong Fung Tsze, in Sandakan, Malaysia—a process of trying to understand more of who I am and who she is, while watching her lose her independence and sense of self.
When my grandmother first started forgetting, my mother crafted her a number of small “life story” notebooks lovingly filled with images and handwritten memories of their lives together. Ironically and brutally, the more you read your life story, the further along the path of dementia you are, and the less you recognise it as your own. These pages are memorialised and work in dialogue with my own images, providing context to my grandmother’s once full and vibrant life.
Although it’s impossible to fully comprehend what people suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease experience, this is my visual interpretation of the disorientating, challenging and repetitive nature of the condition, and the feelings that arise from watching the slow decline of a life of someone you cherish.
In loving memory of my grandmother Kong Fung Tsze (1928-2019).