Only now did I have the chance to have a look at it and I must agree. I’m in awe. In awe at the way these images of the same people always lined up in the same order every single year over a period of forty years – FORTY YEARS! – have struck a very emotional chord in the core of my being, a being that is very much part of a sisterly trinity (and this is me withholding the fact that we all have an older brother. Sorry, bro!)
It’s just that these women, aging and changing over time right before our eyes, are the epiphany of what I feel about my siblings and my relationship with them. And on some crazy level I’m jealous of the Brown sisters for having their lives, love and affection for each other, their experiences, the good and the bad times documented like that. You can see that the person taking the photos, the husband of one of the sisters, is someone they feel comfortable with and trust. It’s truly beautiful, though maybe also a little bit frightening. Yes, the frightening part has to do with the evident traces of age and aging and no-one likes to be reminded that we’ll never look as good and fresh as we did in our usually troubled but mostly great and adventurous youth (at least in retrospect). But age is not at all what defines the sisters. Although the viewer basically watches them grow older, wrinkled and also closer and more confident with each passing year within only a few minutes, you can almost see what life does to them, you feel with them, you wonder what they’ve gone through, what they are like with and without each other, you make up little stories but you never see through them. It’s both voyeuristic and distant at the same time. It’s paradox. They document and defy time all at once.
Thank you to the four sisters, the photographer Nicholas Nixon, the New York Times and most of all thanks to my sister Jana for sharing this with me! (I love you, too!) You all made my day.