Creation Date



image preview


digital print


Dimensions: 16 x 13 inches

This piece is part of a larger work entitled Who Am I?: Memory, Consciousness, and Alzheimer's Disease.

Artist Statement

In the grip of Alzheimer’s Disease, my mother has awoken from deep sleep in a panic because she did not know who she was. Alzheimer’s patients who are close to death can take a full six seconds to even notice that someone is talking to them. When pressured by busy family members or medical personnel, they may respond with terror and aggression, reverting to the ‘fight or flight,’ primitive part of the brain; the heavy storm clouds of fear sometimes dominate their consciousness. In this series of photographs, I explored the impact of Alzheimer's Disease on my 91-year-old mother.

I have pictured my mother against a background of clouds. Like the thoughts and emotions that appear and disappear in our minds, clouds appear and disappear readily. They can obscure the experience of a wide-open, expansive view of life, the inherently spacious and peaceful nature of the mind. In some shots, my mother’s image is opaque to show her identity slowly eroding. Other images show her and old family photographs, which were deliberately degraded so that her loss of memory is emphasized.

Interweaving images sourced from a smart phone, photograms of old snapshots, and a digital camera illustrates the idea that nothing has a simple solid identity, that everything is part of everything else—that when we die, we become part of everything again. With Alzheimer’s, that process can be a slow decline, one that is hard to watch.

However, like other Alzheimer’s patients, my mother experiences periods of awareness, even clarity, reconnection with the world and her spiritual life. Those times are shown in the photographs by light breaking through clouds and by leaving her image whole, solid, not at those times eclipsed by the disease.


© Patricia A. Koleini, 2017.

Exhibit Images

Series Title: Who Am I?: Memory, Consciousness, and Alzheimer's Disease


photography, double exposure, dementia, cloud, aging, identity