Sharon

Sharon, by Leon Borensztein
Sharon, by Leon Borensztein

A long time ago I realized that life isn’t fair,” concludes the American photographer Leon Borensztein (1947) in one of his diary notes. A personal journal that he keeps to reflect on his daughter Sharon, her behaviour and how he responds to it; scribbles on a relationship with a vulnerable child that happens to be his. Sharon, as it turns out soon after her birth, is going to need a lot of attention and loving care while also becoming a source of concern, frustration and occasional despair. Before anything else, Sharon’s existence turns out to be the cause of a seismic change in the life of Leon Borensztein and Cathy, the mother of his child.

‘Sharon’, the book, is a testimony of a reluctant father growing into a loving one, documenting every stage of the challenged life of his daughter – diagnosed with optic nerve hypoplasia, which, as Borensztein himself notes, ’essentially means that there was some kind of insult to the brain’. Sharon is considered blind and her parents are told to expect more complications. Without a clear prospect, the family tries to make the best of life but their path is also perpetually leading to doctors and hospitals. Luckily, as the pictures indicate, there are also plenty of more relaxed moments.

Not all is captured by the camera (sometimes deliberately, as stated in one of the notes) but the photographer in Borensztein urges him to keep track of Sharon’s partly eclipsed life by portraying her continuously over the years, which also has a therapeutic element: it is his best shot at establishing an intimate communication with his daughter who has limited motor skills and expresses elements of autism. […]

Read the the full book review here