Finding Tutu
Project info

Throughout the course of our lives we create and aggregate precious mementos, to which our kin then associate an emotional attachment after our death. After my grandmother passed away in 2009, I was attempting to process my emotional response to the loss. I was overwhelmed with grief and pain, but once that began to clear, there were many questions left unanswered about her life. I was given the dubious task of handling her estate, disassembling a business and creating a new one, sorting through a lifetime of artifacts, and trying to gain a better sense of the woman I knew as my best friend. The loss of someone close always impresses the notion that all the potential questions that may arise will forever remain unanswered. And yet, this allows for the survivors to create a narrative, bringing their own contextual clues to the mysterious story before them. In the photographic series, Finding Tutu, a visual accounting of one person’s journey through life, the viewer is forced to reflect on their own personal index of objects, and speculate what their own narrative might show. As David Levi Strauss once said about referential work, “it is a work of absence, in which what happens between the images is most important.” Chronicling the life of my grandmother through the tangible objects left behind has allowed me and the viewers to create our own narratives about the experiences and meaning behind the artifacts.