Monday, September 27, 2010
Photographer Henrik Malmstrom's sister, Maija, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer at the age of 20 in 1999. In 2007, when she was re-hospitalised, Malmstrom began the photographic documentation of the last months of her life. In March of 2010, (two years after Maija's death) he published his photographs in a book entitled On Borrowed Time.
The title of the book is from a quote from Maija from 2003. “…We live on borrowed time. We borrow some time here on earth, we borrow some consciousness…”
In his photos, Malmstrom tries to capture the emotions of what is going on around him. They are all black and white. Many of the photos are slightly out of focus. There are photos of his sister and other family members but also photos from around the hospital. There are some nature photos but they all have a sad, bleak quality to them. The photo above is one of my favorites. The blurry IV pole and checked tile floor could come out of any hospital. The too skinny legs to guide the pole around add a human touch to these symbols of the sterile hospital.
Taking these photos was a way for Malmstrom to stay close to his sister while she was sick. The time he spent putting the book together was a way of working through his grief after her death. "The two years I worked on it after my sister's death have come to define all of my future work. This was my sorrow work, and I am now free to move on."
More photos can be seen in this article and on Henrik Malmstrom's website. Thanks to Paul for tipping me off about these great photos.