Most of my life has been lived in a golden shimmer of love and privilege. I’ve been lucky in more ways than people can imagine. And intertwined through that iridescent daydream was the illusion of control. The reassuring sense of my hand on the tiller, irrevocably guiding me upwards, towards a bright, certain future.
According to strike reports compiled by investigative journalists, Zubair Rehman’s grandmother is one of several thousand people killed by covert U.S. drone strikes since 2004. Although we live in the most media-connected age in history, the public has scant visual record of the drone war and its casualties.
When my mother died suddenly in 2006, everything changed. I thought that parents were forever, but when mine vanished, I realized that nothing really was. Obvious to most perhaps, but not me. The future became a frightening shadowed landscape, lled with uncertain paths and ruinous storms. I wondered-what other dark and sudden turns lay ahead? Rather than wait helplessly for my future, I decided to confront my fears.
I would try and anticipate my fate. Guess at the abrupt and unforeseen directions my life might take. I would see myself as an old man.
I would envision failure and loneliness.
I would be invisible. Unable to walk. Obese.
I would suffer a stroke. I would lose myself. I would slip sideways, into the irrelevant.
I would see my own death.
Photography is always about the past. The moment picture is taken; it’s behind us, in history. This project is about the future-but how do you research what has not yet occurred? I took a DNA test that told me what illnesses I was likely to get. I consulted with fortune-tellers, tarot card readers, hypnotists, numerologists and palm readers. I researched insurance company statistics. I looked within, at my greatest fears. I worked with a skilled prosthetics expert, so I could physically become my future selves. I took acting lessons. I learned how to move as an old man of 90. How to lose myself in character. Guided by my research, I made images. And something extraordinary happened. The work transformed. From art, to an exorcism.