Thirteen years ago Christopher Capozziello began photographing his twin brother, Nick, and how his life has been affected by cerebral palsy. Though he was initially making these images without an agenda, a narrative began to develop and ten years later, encouraged by colleagues and friends, Capozziello began to place them into a moving documentary series. The Distance Between Us examines not only Nick’s pain and frustration with his illness, but also the close relationship between the brothers.
A working photojournalist, Capozziello considers himself a documentary photographer at heart. His series always begin with questions looking for answers. “When I look over the other long form stories I’ve focused on, I can see that I’ve always been interested in learning something and taking a deeper look at different facets of life.” The Distance Between Us is a deeper look at a more personal subject matter.
In some way, through stories, we all try and work out our own issues, and our own questions; at least I am. I think I'm doing that with a little part of every story I take on and I think that Nick’s and mine has really been the catalyst for my other work. As a child, I would sit and stare at the larger-than-life crucifix during Saturday Mass and wonder, ‘Why did you let this happen to my brother? Why do you let it happen to anyone?’
Capozziello is not the first to ask these questions. White no photograph could answer why Nick’s life is the way it is, in these images we see instead how his life is lived. At home, in public, in the hospitals, alone as well as interacting with others, Capoziello makes a compassionate record of his brother’s days. As Vicki Goldberg said, “Documentaries of illness and injury often fall into the traps of exploitation, sensationalism, or exaggerated appeals for pity. This one maintains a careful balance between clear-sighted observation, compassion, and distress…”
Contemporary documentary photography sometimes struggles to find its place in the gallery world. Not all work is intended to be purchased to hang on a living room wall, but there is beauty and understanding to be found in even the most uncomfortable of images. Capozziello, like many of his contemporaries hopes that, “…work like this will ultimately be embraced by the art world. That embrace means a more thoughtful and deeper conversation will be extended to a greater number of people about the issues that story telling can provide us with.”
Regardless, Capozziello is pleased with every chance he gets to share his work with an audience. “If that’s in a magazine or on a gallery wall, I feel I'm making progress. It’s this continual act of creating and sharing that makes me grateful.” We are grateful to Christopher and to Nick for allowing us to view their world, to think critically, and to understand; and the beautifully hand-printed silver gelatin images are welcomed into our white-walled gallery.
The Distance Between Us is part of the second annual Portfolio Showcase, on view through July 27, 2013.