The Big Issue : Edition 461
26 THE BIG ISSUE 20 JUNE – 3 JULY 2014 CHRISTOPHER CAPOZZIELLO WAS visiting his family home in Connecticut, northeast USA, in 2009. When he pushed his twin brother’s bedroom door open, he found him in a heap on the floor. Nick was wearing yesterday’s clothes; his limbs were twisted, his body in an unnatural shape. Despite his shock, Christopher reached for the camera around his neck. The resulting photo introduces Nick in Christopher’s series and book, The Distance Between Us. Nick was diagnosed with cerebral palsy before the twins’ second birthday; the disorder causes severe muscle cramps, sometimes for hours and sometimes for days. As Christopher’s images show, they’re debilitating cramps. Nick’s fingers can be bent backwards. Speech becomes impossible. His entire body may be rendered useless to him. The book draws from some 25,000 pictures Christopher took of Nick over a period of 13 years, starting when Christopher was studying photography at university. Throughout the book, Christopher, now 34, writes about his family’s experience of Nick’s cerebral palsy, telling stories to match the images and giving snippets of dialogue from his brother. Some are humorous, some heartbreaking. There’s a trip to karaoke and a dance-floor flirtation, a run-in with young aggressors on the street, as well as complications following brain surgery. The book isn’t a study of cerebral palsy, but rather is an account of one family’s relationship with it. His own experience, as well as Nick’s, is of interest to Christopher. “I want answers,” he writes in the book. “I want explanations for why some suffer and others do not.” When asked about the purpose of his images, Christopher explains: “In many ways the book turned out to be more about me, and how I’ve dealt with our differences... This could have been a story about what it’s like to live with cerebral palsy, but to look deeper and share the fact that we’re twins...begins to offer a different story.” Christopher’s feelings of guilt about his healthy body recur through the stories and lead to an account of a road trip taken by the twins through the American desert. In many ways, Christopher’s photos are about making peace with Nick’s disorder, and about forgiving himself for being able to do what Nick cannot. It proves to be a liberating quest. Forgiveness means looking beyond a disorder and seeing a life. by Adam Curley » See also chriscappy.com.