The dynamic work of sculptor Gaylord Ho is instantly recognizable. Emotion oozes from the figures, as they throw their energy into dancerly poses. His female figures twist and twirl, animated and vital. Born in Taiwan, the 66-year-old artist has a fascinating personal history. Growing up as the son of low income farmers, Ho was expected to balance his studies while helping on the rice farm.
A few years ago, French photographer Sacha Goldberger found his 91-year-old Hungarian grandmother Frederika feeling lonely and depressed. To cheer her up, he suggested that they shoot a series of outrageous photographs in unusual costumes, poses, and locations. Grandma reluctantly agreed, but once they got rolling, she couldn’t stop smiling.
Frederika was born in Budapest 20 years before World War II. During the war, at the peril of her own life, she courageously saved the lives of ten people. When asked how, Goldberger told us “she hid the Jewish people she knew, moving them around to different places every day.” As a survivor of Nazism and Communism, she then immigrated away from Hungary to France, forced by the Communist regime to leave her homeland illegally or face death.
Aside from great strength, Frederika has an incredible sense of humor, one that defies time and misfortune. She is funny and cynical, always mocking the people that she loves.
With the unexpected success of this series, titled “Mamika” (or grandma in Hungarian), Goldberger created a MySpace page for her. She now has over 2,200 friends and receives messages like: “You’re the grandmother that I have dreamed of, would you adopt me?” and ” You made my day, I hope to be like you at your age.”
Initially, she did not understand why all these people wrote to congratulate her. Then, little by little, she realized that her story conveyed a message of hope and joy. In all those pictures, she posed with the utmost enthusiasm. Now, after the set, Goldberger shares that his grandmother has never shown any signs of depression. Perhaps it’s because her story serves some sort of purpose. That through the warm words of newfound friends, she’s reminded of just how lucky she is to be alive.
We got in touch with Sacha Goldberger, the grandson and talented photographer to ask him more about his background and creative process. He told us this: “I’ve been photographing for four years now and before that I worked as a creative director. My grandmother is very professional. I’d show her some poses, and she’d propose some of her own. I like to tell stories and I also work with some very creative friends.”
Update: This post has gone viral. Read the latest news and see more photos of this super grandma, here.