One of the most interesting recent photo documentaries is the one of Oded Wagenstein. This guy from the Middle East, who, he says, has rarely been traveling in regions with temperatures near 0 degrees Celsius, decided to go to one of the coldest and most inhospitable places in the world to take pictures of a community of women. They spend the rest of their lives isolated and left all alone in the tundra. Once, these women were part of a nomadic community who kept spending their lives moving with their families and livestock through the wide open spaces of the tundra.
However, as they grow too old for such hardships and according to their traditions, they separate from their community to continue spending their lives mainly in isolation. While the men, despite their advanced age, are encouraged to stay within their nomadic community and keep their social roles, the women are often ostracized and left alone in their struggles with old age. With the incredibly touching title “Forgotten Like Last Year’s Snow“ Oded Wagenstein focuses on the fate of these women in a wonderful and, at the same time, in an incredibly melancholic way.
About his approach to this moving project the photographer writes on his website:
“Using their stories as my guide, I documented the same spaces they once wandered. Those memories of the past, represented by the images of the outside world, are combined with the portraits of current reality. By creating this work, I tried to give their stories a visual representation. One that could last after they are already gone.”
As a documentary photographer, Oded Wagenstein explores with his photo series the relation of ageing, longing and memory, thus focusing on an issue which, I believe, is often widely neglected. Although even in Europe ageing plays a more and more essential role it often isn’t addressed as an issue.
In an interview with Lensculture Magazine he says that with the help of photography he gets confronted with an issue he actually feels uneasy about. He focuses on issues like ageing, longing and memory. How is life for people in the old age? What are their dreams, their fears, their stories? In his photo series Oded Wagenstein travels around the world to ask very old people his own unresolved questions about ageing.
How about you? Is ageing an issue with which society, and people in Europe as well, deal with in an adequate way? Or are elderly people in our society also being marginalized in some way?