Before the Second World War my maternal family fled Korce, inSouthern Albania, and immigrated to the United States. After the borders were sealed by the paranoid dictator Enver Hoxha, we were cutoff from those who remained behind for nearly fifty years. We sent a steady stream of letters and photographs but never received a response.In 1993, shortly after the fall of the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc, I traveled to Albania for the first time. There, I was stunned to discover that the letters and photographs sent by my family in the United States framed and hung. I have since made dozens of return trips to explore the people and place that were off-limits for so long.
In Dec 2009, I began photographing my mother at the nursing home where she had been living for nearly thirty years. She entered the facility after her second husband beat her so badly that she suffered permanent brain damage.
As a creative, I feel as if I move back and forth through time. The first decade of my career was spent creating images that I saw through the lens of Shakespeare and all of his tragedies. Genocide, Apartheid, war zones and famine, all took center stage and consumed the last of my innocence.
Iraq and Singapore are separated by a swathe of continent, generation, history and situation which are as different as can be. But fellas here are as particular about sculpting their hair into impressive constructions as the fellas there. Any older man is an uncle (although an older woman in Iraq is not necessarily an aunty). The fullness of a woman’s hair, an equal obsession (don’t even start with the horror that greets unusual hair fall), as is the fairness of her skin.
We are more alike than we know.