Doris' Diary

Berlin, February 2016
Ines Meier

The pictures in the photo album are scratched, reddish, the lint on the negatives enlarged. Photo corners, picture captions. Doris’ evenly formed handwriting appears slightly naïve, younger than she is. July 8th, 1972. Her 21st birthday. She was at the doctor’s. Monitoring of the blood count. Without syringe, she won’t keep up for three weeks. She smiles at the camera, directly, candidly, trustfully and a little mischievous. Her glance goes to the one behind the lens – Rudolf Gerbaulet, whom she meets tonight. On her wedding picture, she wears a white dress with a veil and he a black suite. She points the bridal bouquet with its colorful blossoms towards the camera like an enchantment: Everything will be fine.
The picture series pushes through the birthday party, through gathered people, dances, streamers. Nothing of it seems relaxed. The bodies are cut into parts in a way that one gets lost. Guests place their hand in front of their face, a hat, a sweater. I don’t want to be photographed. I don’t want you to take my picture, to visualize me. Despite her protests, Doris gets picked up and thrown towards the ceiling. Again and again. She’s afraid of falling.
Now, the pictures race through the invasiveness and the helplessness as if they want to leave everything behind as fast as possible and as if, at the same time, they are not able to close their eyes to what is happening. To what finds no end. More parties. Two women with blindfolded eyes. One stuffs a piece of chocolate into the mouth of the other with a fork. To the right, the hand of a man stretches into the picture. It pushes the head of the woman towards the fork. Carnival. Coarse graining, black and white. Everybody is there: Hitler, Bismarck, two hangmen. They strangle a sailor, his face distorts to a grimace. A stuffy, paralyzing density that has to come from somewhere else than just the interior of the town houses of the model settlements. What we never, anywhere in these photo albums see: The birth of the children. Pictures showing the parents with their daughters Ramona and Alexandra.
When the family breaks up, Ramona is send to children’s home and Alexandra to the grandparents. Rudolf runs. Doris moves from clinic to clinic. The incurable disease carves its way into her handwriting. Her defense cells are directed against her own body. The nerves are now literally on edge, they barely transmit any stimuli. She doesn’t connect her letters anymore. Separately, wrested with such great difficulty from her hand, they stand just about stiffly, edgy. Millimeter by millimeter, using a lot of pressure on the pen, she works herself through the words. “This is the clinic,” she writes on a postcard to her daughter that she never sends. A picture shows Doris in a wheelchair in the clinic. Dizziness, fatigue, incontinence. Her contours blur. Her movements become smaller and smaller. She disappears, slowly, crippling. Other patients dress Doris up for carnival as a witch. She wears huge glasses and a scarf around her head. There’s a black point drawn on her nose. Her face is frighteningly gaunt. Her gaze faces the camera directly. Somehow unsettled, exhausted and as if the flash that unforgivingly deforms her may already be the light at the end of the tunnel.