Growing up, my father felt like a secret that was being kept from me. I had few memories of us together. I remember him giving me my first doll and us dancing together in our tiny apartment in Moscow. I also remember him leaving. Sometimes he would be gone for months at a time and I never knew when to expect him.

Then, when I was seven, it was our turn to leave. My mother woke me up one morning and told me to pack my belongings. She said we were going on a trip. The next morning, I woke up in my new home — California. From then on, we hardly ever spoke of my father. I had no photos of him, and eventually I forgot what he looked like. My mother shared with me a handful of stories that made me want to know him, touch him, invent him. Fifteen years later, I traveled to the former Soviet republic of Armenia to find him. These images are my attempt to piece together an image of a familiar stranger.

—Diana Markosian