Rahim Fortune’s Homecomings
The photographer’s new collection, “I can’t stand to see you cry,” documents his return to Texas early in the pandemic to care for his ailing father.
Rahim Fortune’s father appears in only one photograph in Fortune’s new collection, “I can’t stand to see you cry,” but he is the book’s animating presence. The portrait shows the older man propped up in bed, with an oxygen tube over his nose, gripping his son’s hand, which reaches out from behind the camera. Fortune took it last spring, when he returned from Brooklyn, where he lives, to his home town of Kyle, Texas, outside of Austin, to help care for his father in the final months of his battle against A.L.S. Fortune, who is twenty-seven, found himself in the new role of caretaker, as the covid-19 pandemic was accelerating and protests against police killings were spreading across the country. Between shifts at his father’s bedside, he took his camera into the streets of a city that he knew intimately but which he now set about photographing with a new urgency born of his dad’s illness. “Pointing the camera into the abyss—that’s what that energy was,” he told me recently. “All the moments that I was away from the house, I was just thinking about him. And everything was intentional. There were no wasted movements.”