Afsaneh, Box I | 2014

Afsaneh was my father Afshin's younger sister. Along with their father, The General, they had been given asylum to live in the UK after the Islamic Revolution of Iran in 1979. From the early eighties onwards they lived together in an area in south west London called Putney. In 1986, at the age of eight my mother sent me from California to London to live with them. Afsaneh became my mother and selflessly raised me. Without a choice in the matter, she went from the delicate little girl of the family to the rock that held the Mobasser's together. My father and I would become room mates in Afsaneh's two bedroom flat for the next ten years until that sweet September day in 1998 when I would finally leave home. My grandfather who had lived nearby to us had passed away two years prior so Afsaneh had no one to look after anymore. As neither had partners, the brother and sister carried on living side by side.

Fast forward to 2013, fifteen years had passed and I was now living in north London with my wife Joceline and our one year old son Faris. Having a child was bringing with it many life questions and I wanted to channel this through my work. I saw a need to revisit my upbringing. As an American citizen who saw himself as an Iranian as well as a Londoner, I had grown up wanting 'normality' and felt embarrassed by my story. My wife being a German/Haitian living in London had also struggled with her identity so I wanted our son to be a confident citizen of the world who would pride himself on his individuality. A good starting point would be Putney, the home I had been running away from for the last fifteen years. I also turned the camera for the first time on my aunt and father with a new urge to photograph them as part of this self discovery of family and my home environment. Living on the opposite side of London, it also became a another reason to take Faris there to spend time with Afsaneh, who was at this time not working and battling with depression. My father and her though under the same roof, lived very separate lives and it seemed that my son, wife and I were a source of much happiness for my aunt. Us and celebrity gossip!

On August 11 2013 this personal project would take an unexpected turn. At the age of 56, Afsaneh would suffer a stroke in her home and pass away two days later. I continued to photograph her space as soon as this happened knowing her spirit would still be in the process of departing. I would return now and then while my father would be at work to continue photographing the transition. The last photograph I took of Afsaneh was in March of 2013. It was with Faris on her lap, sitting under a painting of my grandfather. After they got up I noticed the imprint she had left on the cushion so decided to take another picture as they played on the sofa next to me.