The Distance Between Us: A photographic account of cerebral palsy


 In a revealingly raw series of black and white images, freelance photographer Christopher Capozziello attempts to document his twin brother’s cerebral palsy. It is an ambitious project. Not only does it expose the obvious hardships and frustrations of this incurable condition, but the pictoral documentary poses difficult questions about human suffering – questions that are perhaps as big as they are unanswerable.

Why are some people born into a life of suffering or disease? What about God and Faith? Can they offer any reason? When I first read of Christopher Capozziello’s latest project, I told myself that such queries are pointless. Whilst it is only human to try and rationalise one’s way around the difficulties that life often throws our way, it is often futile to do so. Far better to focus on achievable goals, than dwell on the unfathomable .


‘The Distance Between Us’ is an unashamedly graphic portrayal of cerebral palsy

Christopher Capozziello seems not to share this view. On the contrary, his latest project, confronts some of these questions head-on. ‘The Distance Between Us’ is a still film of black and white photographs, which open a window into the life of Capozziello’s twin brother, Nick, who has cerebral palsy.

The severity of Nick’s cerebral palsy is clear from the collection of graphic photographs. At times, the images seem to depict the loneliness of his condition. In other pictures, Nick’s affliction takes on an almost ‘Frankensteinian’ quality. Scenes of the subject struggling against his own contorted limbs could easily make some people feel uncomfortable.

However there is an undeniable strength which comes through these images. Nick’s satirical sense of humour is also clearly expressed at times. For Christopher, this piece of work is as much a cathartic exercise as an artistic project . One can often forget the burden of guilt carried by an able bodied sibling. This expose helps him to exorcise these feelings.


The images clearly depict the pain and frustration of Nick’s condition


As I mentioned at the start of this blog, I thought I had stopped questioning why I have cerebral palsy. In truth, Christopher Capoziello’s work has made me realise this is not the case. It is impossible to block out these questions.  One’s only real choice is to try and somehow come to terms with the challenges of disability.


The pictures also evidence the subject’s wry sense of humour


This collection of photographs is exactly that. It is a way for Christopher and Nick to share in the latter’s struggles and to somehow accept Nick’s cerebral palsy. In that sense, ‘The Distance Between Us’ is far more about the relationship between two brothers than anything else. It is a relationship, coloured by cerebral palsy, but arguably made stronger because of it.


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