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I'm not my body. A story about euthanasia.

Michel PETILLO | Belgium

At age 12, Claire was involved in a car crash. She was ejected from the backseat and the car landed on her back. It left her scarred for life. She had not seen her back until she asked me to photograph it.

In the summer of 2016, I met Claire C. a then 33-year-old wheelchair-bound woman, suffering from severe debilitating pains in her right foot, epilepsy and spastic quadriplegia (spastic cerebral palsy). Since the age of seven, her life has been about life-threatening accidents, invasive operations, severe painkillers, and ultimately wanting to end her life. Ever since the pains started in 2012, she has been seeking a diagnosis and an effective treatment besides morphine-based painkillers and psychological support. In 2017, one physician took up her case, clearing the way for a spinal neurostimulator implant. Initially successful, the pains reoccurred of few weeks later. Claire, once again, re-initiated her request for active euthanasia while remaining in doubt whether to go for it or not; hoping for a medical miracle. This delicate and confronting body of work is in full collaboration with Claire in order to give her a voice and contribute to the public discussion on euthanasia.




Michel is a Brussels-based freelance fine art and documentary photographer (°1971). He is half Italian, half Dutch.He started photography with the Berlin School of Photography in 2009. In 2014, Michel attended a documentary photography course at the LCC of the University of Arts and Magnum Photo.In addition to being a professional photographer and photojournalist, Michel holds a master’s in international law & human rights, and clinical psychology. His documentary work is inspired by current social, political, religious and environmental issues, producing images that fall midway between fine art photography and classic documentary work. His photo series are accompanied by short in-depth articles.






Michel Petillo

Tel: +32 494 31 65 99


Instagram: @michel_petillo



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