Girls, 2011. Todd Danforth/The Stand

Finding Myself, Saving Myself.

Todd Danforth

USA. 2010 – 2015

My parents separated long before my memory began to exist. I remember trying to imagine what a family dynamic would have been like, but reality left me at the frayed end of a long string of family turmoil.

 This work began as an exploration of my grandfather’s diagnosis of dementia. He became ill and was unable to remember where he was going, so we created a rotating 24-hour care schedule to keep him from having to move to a nursing home. It was a strain on the family, but it remained in place until the day he passed away in my aunt’s home.

 My grandfather’s empty stare seemed to fill the void of the present with reflections of a lifetime passed. His grip tightened and I could feel the tension that years of drinking built. I could see the desperation in the wrinkles of his skin, the desire to remember the present so he could forgive the past. With a sober and earnest mind he was finally able to clearly distinguish the damage that was done, yet frustrated his memory was fading along with the window of reconciliation. He gave his children the addictive personality trait, and my family took to that inheritance well. Alcoholism and drug addiction became a way of dealing with the instability of mental health, propelling my family further into the deepest and darkest corners of their minds. Eventually, the foundation began to crumble.

 The camera is a way of clutching my disintegrating childhood family to the disconcerting feeling of being a stranger in my own life.