“She is my absolute muse, in photography and in life,” photographer Adelaide Ivánova says of her 93-year-old grandmother, also named Adelaide. Her ongoing project Adelaide chronicles the life of the matriarch, deconstructing stereotypes surrounding old age in the process. As the older Adelaide navigates her twilight years, the younger becomes her shadow, giving voice to the joys and frustrations of her days.
Shot in Reclife, Brazil and during a visit to Rio, Ivánova’s body of work spans nearly ten years, emerging like a family photo album of one, a study into the origin of the self through a single subject. Adelaide’s story unfolds like a one woman show put on for a mysterious audience, a drama rich with humor and joy and infused with unknowable meanings and significance.
Moments of happiness and pain alike are imbued with the history of a long and complex life. Adelaide, born in Brazil in 1921, bore sixteen children, fourteen of whom lived into adulthood. After the bankruptcy of her husband’s grocery business, she supported her children by selling cakes.
In her old age, it has become difficult to walk, and she no longer practices yoga. Her days are spent sewing and reading. She enjoys crossword puzzles. Mostly, she wants to be recognized and remembered by a society that too often forgets the elderly. When asked about her grandmother’s interests, the photographer replies, “Actually, her favorite hobby is to tell people what to do; she’s the big boss of our family”
All images © Adelaide Ivanova
via Foto Visura