When I was four years old my parents went through a torturous divorce. My father had been using all manner of drugs and was an acute alcoholic. The relationship had been abusive, often to the point of serious violence, and finally my mother had no choice but to flee with me. Eventually my father sobered up and retreated back home to a remote area of the Appalachian Mountains in Kentucky. Sadly, he is now so sick and delusional that he thinks nothing is wrong with him, that all the world’s evil and malice lie outside of him. He is a bitter and eccentric recluse.
As a child I was sent to visit him during summer breaks from school. Each day he would insist that we go out so he could take photographs of me. Years later I realized that the pictures he was making were illustrations of an imaginary relationship. One that he had created in his mind. The last time I saw him was twenty years ago. His mother had passed away and I had gone to her funeral where he lives in Manchester, Kentucky. To my surprise I discovered that he was still obsessed with our “imaginary” relationship. This delusion had become his secret universe, hidden away from the rest of the world. In most of the pictures of us he had scattered around his house, I was not smiling: proof that even at an early age I did not trust that this ‘relationship’ he as attempting to depict was in any way real. The pictures were fiction.
Much of my photography stems from these strained, unnatural years. In many ways the private universe that reveals itself in my work is my own mechanism of escape. As much as it is difficult to admit to myself, I know that I am like my father. There is a sense of ever growing isolation, thus photography has become my therapy. I am intrigued by life’s dark curiosities. Transfixed, my father’s gifts are an ambiguous burden of vast weight. They are what I have; what has me.
- Victor Cobo