When it comes to family, it can be said that one often chooses to photograph what is in front of them as much as possible. Can you tell us what is in front of you in these images?
I am interested in vernacular photography and the family photo album. The images in the family photo album assembled by my parents provide a glossy facade, disguising occasions of substance abuse, suicide, and domestic violence that are deeply rooted in my family history. In “Next of Kin” I create a series of photographs that supplement my existing family album. These images are made to investigate the tragedies that have happened during this generational, cyclical pattern of domestic trauma.
I photograph my family as I direct them through a series of brief performances. So the photographs that you see in “Next of Kin” are not documents. I am not interested in the photograph as a vessel of truth or evidence. The resulting images represent a tangible manifestation of my own memories, experiences and my understanding of the generations that came before. They are a colored self-portrait of myself and my family. They are way of reconciling the past.
In all honesty, on most days I am simply not sure what exactly it is that is in front of me—which is great because photographing my children is a challenging act. The camera is always around, and in time I have come to recognize that two things are usually happening: on the one hand I am trying to organically capture whatever it they are presenting me with, but it seems that I am also attempting to nail down a purely aesthetic and subjective vision of childhood moments. Perhaps these attempts are based on my own recalled memories, but the fact is that the overlap between myself as a young fellow and myself as a father cannot be discarded.
Benjamin, James and Harrison are my worthiest subjects and I do my best to turn the camera on them with closeness and simplicity. Photographs of our journeys and moments become a cumulative inventory of sentimental ideals, and ultimately they become my contribution to our family and the value of home.
My parents divorced when I was very young and my father raised me. As a little girl I would sit in the bathroom with him as he shaved, watching in awe as he carefully glided the razor across his face. No matter how gentle my father was he would always nick himself and a drop of blood would surface. But this sight did not alarm me; I knew that a tiny piece of tissue would be enough to mend his wound.
I began making images of my father, two half-brothers and half-sister five years ago when I moved away from my family for the first time to attend graduate school. At this time my mother’s mental illness took control of her and our family began to unravel. I felt an urgency to be at home. Making these images was a reason for me to go home, they were my way of understanding the complexities of the situation.
The images are glimpses into the lives of my family members and our homes. They depict our history and provide insight into our future. The images are of private moments shared between my father, sister, brothers, and myself. I am not interested in photographing the grand moments of their life, but rather the small details of their everyday. The images reveal the strength of my family’s bond as we come to terms with my mother’s mental illness and our ever-changing family dynamic. The images picture the experiences of my siblings as they transition into adulthood and my father’s struggles to hold everything together.
Edited by Mark Peter Drolet