On December 22, 2015, I published the post, Returning to Mike, that explained a series of occurrences that enabled me to construct a portrait of Mike, my older brother, in a way he had never been portrayed before. Mike is severely autistic, low functioning and has never spoken.
I photographed him on his 40th birthday at one of the Developmental Centers in New York State where they sent those who were housed at Willowbrook State School after it was shut down for massive human rights abuses. It was always difficult to get Mike’s attention. For one, his eyes were not coordinated. One looked in a different direction than the other. But in my photograph, Mike’s left eye was looking right at me!
Mike giving me attention:
I printed the picture, cut it in half just to make sure he was looking at me.
When I brought the half-face up to a mirror, there was my whole brother looking at me… the brother I never had.
This is my brother too:
There are two sides to any coin, so I had to see what the other side of his face revealed.
Putting them both together forms a monstrous image.
Below is my watercolor of my other brother Mike:
I like to think I rendered away some of his ‘otherness’ in this work. He is still utterly different, and I don’t understand him, especially after not seeing him for so long, but I know that we are brothers.