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Marlène Rateau has been a teacher and a nurse. She studied nursing in Haiti and started working as a nurse once she settled in Canada. In 1983, when the Red Cross declared that haemophiliacs, homosexuals, heroin addicts and Haitians should not give blood as they were considered vectors of the newly discovered HIV virus, Marlène quickly began to organise in order to fight the stigmatisation of sick patients as well as provide them with support as best she could.
As someone who has spent most of my life moving around, settling in different countries for no more than a few months at a time, the concept of “home” has become less tied to the idea of a physical space or structure, and more to the people I am surrounded by.
Back in January, I captured these photographs of my sister, Shadha, and her best friend, Cassandra, in an attempt to visualise the way shifting notions of “home” can lead one to find comfort and refuge in other people. The bond shared between these two transcend any preconceived ideas of what it means to be family, as their chosen sisterhood and shared experiences have helped shape them into the intuitive, confident and caring individuals they are today.
- My youngest sister, Jadesola, during a family trip to Paternoster, a small fishing village located on the west coast of South Africa.
Despite our large age gap of 12 years (I am 21 and Jadie is 9), Jadesola and I share a close bond. I see a lot of myself in her, not only in our strikingly similar physical appearances but also in her approach to life. Her unwavering positivity and ability to find the good in every moment continues to inspire me daily as I am reminded of how fortunate I am to lead the life that I do.
- My father during an impromptu shoot in our back yard at our home in Constantia, Cape Town, August 2020.
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As I struggled to find ways to remain creative during the first few months of the pandemic, I turned to documenting my family through intimate portraits that challenged me to work within my immediate surroundings, while also allowing me to uncover deeper layers to our relationships.
Despite working in the spotlight, my father has often shied away from my camera’s view. Photographing him in our home setting in a low-pressure environment was an attempt to put his mind at ease and what I think ultimately led to me creating some of my favourite portraits of him that truly capture who he is in his most real, natural state.
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