Evita Goze

2009-2013

Her light hair was pulled back and her cheeks covered in freckles. Her bright eyes looked straight at me from the grainy sepia coloured photograph, which I stumbled across on a social networking site. Despite her childlike features, Anete’s page stated that she was, in fact, seventeen years old. As soon as I saw the image I knew I wanted to photograph her. In order to meet her I agreed to take pictures of a fancy dress party. I didn't know then that Anete’s medical condition - a lack of the hormone that stimulates growth and cell reproduction - had forever trapped her in a child's body. She was only about one meter thirty centimetres in height; she had no breasts and tiny hips, and initially could be mistaken for a girl of about ten years of age. I worried that Anete would turn me down when I asked if she would pose for me, but she agreed. A few weeks later, on the balcony of my apartment, I asked Anete to pull her hair back and made almost the same picture as the first one ever I saw of her.

I shot a few films over that autumn and through the following summer: close-up portraits and dreamy images of her lying on her back surrounded by greenery. It was a couple of years after our first meeting that Anete became my photographic obsession for one short summer. I remember a late summer afternoon by the seaside, the sky covered with white clouds. A thunderstorm would be coming later to wash the heat from the streets. I photographed her lying in the sand, her bare back and a huge blue mark on her feet – which, Anete explained, she got ‘from dancing in a music festival’. Soon it started to drizzle. A few minutes after we packed our bags and decided to leave the beach the rain became stronger. Scarred by lightning, the heavens turned pink. As we decided to head off along the forest road, scared of missing the last train back to Riga, the street turned into a flowing stream. Water filled my eyes, part-blinded me, it washed around my ankles. We reached the station soaking wet and left marks of wet bare feet and water drops from our hair and clothing on the carriage floor. Only a while after we sat down I realised how cold I was. Anete was shaking. Later, she told she waited half an hour for her onward tram home. I felt guilty for letting her catch a cold.

I struggle to recall what we did, what we talked about or what she told me. I can't really recall many memories of her. I mostly remember myself speaking. When I think of her, I always think of her eyes looking into camera, and of myself mesmerised by her gaze. I think of her hair and skin, emerging close and detailed from the blackness of the darkroom; sharper and more precise than any reality, and of myself leaning over her projection on the enlarger baseboard day after day, until the evening I was told she had died.

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