When a parent dies, a child loses not just the parent as they were, as they remember them to be, but who that parent would have been. As the child ages, she wonders what her dead parent would look like. Mariela Sancari took this curiosity about a dead parent's aging and turned it into a moving photographic series of portraits of men who resembled her late father. Sancari found the men through a newspaper ad. She posed with the men and even had the men wear her father's clothes. The resulting portraits are eerie and unsettling. The men are not exactly replacements and not exactly representations, they are only ever approximations, they embody the idea of her father, they show a daughter's desperate longing to be near the father she lost forever, a daughter acknowledging that no man can be her father, no matter the resemblance or the wearing of his clothes. Their presence seems to only intensify the absence of Sancari's father. He is gone and she can only futilely search for his doppelgangers, these men scattered throughout the world who look a bit like a dead man they will never meet.
"Photography is our exorcism"
Jean Baudrillard, La transparence du mal
Thanatology asserts that not seeing the dead body of our beloved ones, prevents us from accepting their death. Contemplating the body of the deceased helps us overcome one of the most complex stages of grief: denial.
My twin sister and I were not allowed to see the dead body of our father. I never knew if that was because he committed suicide or because of Jewish religious beliefs or both.
Not seeing him has made us doubt his death in many ways. The feeling that everything was a nightmare and the fantasy we both have that we are going to find him walking in the street or sitting in a cafe has accompanied us all these years.
I once read that fiction´s primary task is to favor evolution, forcing us to acknowledge and become the otherness around us. I think fiction can help us depict the endless reservoir of the unconscious, allowing us to represent our desires and fantasies.
Moisés is a typology of portraits of men in their 70´s, the age that my father would be today if he were alive.with thanks to Mariela Sancari
The Guardian - Mariela Sancari: why I tracked down and photographed my dead dad's lookalikes