“My grandmother was an atomic bomb,” laughs Sacha Golberger, Mamika’s grandson. “It’s not the grandson who tells you that, it’s the photographer”. At 102, this internet famous grandmother died of heart, lung and intestinal problems. “We decided not to push hard and let her fall asleep quietly. His body was a little tired from all of this, ”says his grandson.
The latter talks about the character and attitude of his grandmother. “She has always been positive, sympathetic, funny, with a strong character. I never saw him give up. She was optimistic no matter what. Above all, she was very curious, even at 90 she asked me about everything. I think curiosity is very important for longevity. “
A busy life
Born in 1919 in Budapest, Hungary, Mamika was “brought up like a proletarian”, according to her grandson, despite her bourgeois Jewish family. So she worked on the assembly line in her father’s textile factory.
“She was a very positive woman,” continues Sacha Golberger. “I never heard her complain, when she’s been through terrible things. Persecuted during World War II, Mamika and her husband hid eleven people while moving from place to place. “Until a bomb exploded near them, my grandmother received shrapnel and was injured. They were even captured at the end of the war by Hungarian Nazis. “
After the war, Mamika and her husband divorced. She leaves for France, and her husband for England. In total, she had four husbands and two daughters. “Once in France, she had to go back to work, and therefore worked in textiles. She was 82 or 83 when she stopped. “
“What if Mamika featured my photos on my website?” “Between the photographer and the grandmother,” the professional collaboration “begins with this funny idea. “But the photos were boring, and I told myself that was not enough,” Sacha remembers. So the photographer decides to stage his grandmother. He asks her to pretend to use his hairspray as a phone. The adventure begins.
“I saw straight away that it was working well,” he says. “For the second photo, I put my red motorcycle helmet on him with a white star, and the photo was cool. If the second photo worked, it was no coincidence. So we started our photo series. ”
Break the clichés of old age
For Sacha Goldberger, these photos allowed him to demonize age. “All of these photos are about old age, loneliness, and the ability of old people to laugh at them. At the time, it was not the image of the elderly. This image did not match what I was seeing. Mamika had a sense of humor, we were very far from the cliché old lady. This aspect is part of old age, but it’s not just that. ”
The photographer uses his photos to accompany his grandmother. “We took pictures of loneliness, of Alzheimer’s, we played down this worrying part. At the same time, we were going to see memory specialists to stop the bleeding. On the one hand, we denounced the thing while laughing, but on the other hand we were confronted with the reality of managing daily life. “
The impact of social networks
At the beginning, when Sacha Goldberger posted his first photos on MySpace, he was already receiving very positive messages “Every morning she looked and asked ‘but why are these people writing to me, they have nothing better to do?’. We took pictures for fifteen years, these images accompanied her in her old age. Mamika, she’s not a character, she’s my grandmother. But the character took precedence over reality. ”
Little by little, the old lady becomes famous. “We recognized her in the street. At the same time, there was television, articles… She was not prepared for it, but she assumed. The phenomenon of grandmother and grandson doing funny things gives hope. We can be old, in good shape and have a good laugh. “
A special relationship
If the photographer always accompanied Mamika during his interviews, it was to make her known. “I wanted people to talk about it, if one day it is no longer there. Now that I have announced her death, I receive a lot of testimonies, obviously she gave a lot of hope and joy to a lot of people, more than one would have imagined. “
All these photos even help the grandson to cope with the death of his grandmother. “Today, all the people I meet talk to me about her. I feel like I shared a piece of my grandmother with France, and it’s wonderful. I had so much fun. I have the impression of having lived what I had to live with her. People survive because we talk about them and think of them ”.