Project

Lonely Hearts: Should You Be Afraid of Growing Old?

Looking for an answer to the question “Why are we afraid of growing old?”, Swiss photographer Zoé Beausire spent a year taking pictures of her elderly relatives.

Zoé Beausire

Born in Switzerland, lives in Berlin. Published her work in Foam, iGNANT, Aint-Bad Magazine. Exhibited her photographs in Japan, Germany, France, and Spain.

— I wanted to tell a story that does not only deal with three people’s intimacy, but the much more general question of old age and the human condition. Nobody wants to be confronted with their own finiteness but I think that isolation, physical deterioration, and dependence are important themes in our aging Western societies. I was interested in questioning old age as the stage of life when the human condition is revealed to individuals themselves, but I also wanted to show that life still remains. A life reduced to micro-activities but nevertheless a life. There are still feelings, emotions, friendship. The protagonists find trust and solidarity, they reinvent their own collectivity.

Rosette was my paternal grandmother and Mauricette her sister. They both raised their children alone, were working all their life in the same factory, and lived on the same street. They always had a really strong relationship made of solidarity and understanding, but they also exasperated one another like an old couple who knows each other too well. Roby was my maternal grandfather. He lived alone in a small village. He was really isolated. Physically, because he didn’t have a driving license any more, but also emotionally, he reached 91 years of age and did not have any friends left.

I was interested in questioning old age as the stage of life when the human condition is revealed to individuals themselves.
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I chose these three people because it was the opportunity for me not only to deal with the question of old age, but also to get deeper into my family story and to get to know my relatives in a new light. But they were also from a humble background. Their lives were based on work and family. Once they are retired, once their children live by themselves, their social life decreases.

The most difficult thing when working on this project was to learn to stop measuring time. I spent days and nights with the three protagonists and I had to learn a new notion of time. They don’t need to wake up at 6 am to go working anymore and they don’t need to be back home at 5pm. So time doesn’t need to be measured any more. It was hard to move away from this conditioning, but finally I gained a new kind of freedom.

I am afraid of being old in this society. Individualism and the cult of young make life hard for older people.

I am not afraid of the process of getting old but maybe I am too young for that, I will maybe change my mind in 20 years. But I am much more afraid of being old in this society. Individualism and the cult of young make life hard for older people.

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