Johann Bouche-Billon’s photo-series Photos of my Grandfather Dying is daring in its intimacy and complete honesty. When his grandfather was diagnosed with terminal cancer, Johann used his artwork in an attempt to wrap his head around what was going on. Of all his grandparents, he was closest with this grandfather, and had never experienced a death so close in his family. Although death is a reality of life, many if not all of us have difficulty accepting it, and Johann experienced anxiety attacks and confusion at the fact of his grandfather passing. The series provides an opportunity for healing and understanding, not only for Johann, but presumably anyone experience the death of a loved one. Originally, Johann was nervous that people would take offence at such a personal subject, but has said that the series has been received well.
His photo-series is extremely revealing, and it requires a great deal of bravery to show it to an audience. The photos show his grandfather at various stages of his deterioration, with loved ones or alone, but there are also a great deal of what you could call b-roll interspersed in between. The b-roll – consisting of photos of a food spread, a television, a painting of jesus, etc. – allows moments of contemplation or rest, for the viewer and probably for Johann himself. It makes the process seem more natural, instead of only presenting chronological photos of his grandfather, he lets you breath and wander through traces of his family and the scenes surrounding the events. The series itself is 107 photographs, and so the selection of images I’ve curated for this article is disproportionately weighted towards photographs of Johann’s grandfather. In the end, he is the subject of greatest importance, but I highly recommend checking out the entire series here, it’s extremely moving. (Via Vice)