After years of obsessive family history research my mother planned a trip to visit key sites and archives relating to our migrant forebears from Sweden, Denmark, and Scotland. In no uncertain terms she informed me that I would be accompanying her. For seven weeks we travelled Europe uncovering the life stories of people we would never know.
Many of the records we found spoke of hardship, mettle, and determination. We located the homes and villages in which protagonists from our ancestral past lived and died, churches where they married, and ports that they escaped through. The stories of David Dickie Reid, Nora Christina Svenson, and Phillip Ernst Christensen—three immigrants of roughly the same generation from Scotland, Sweden, and Denmark respectively are the focus of this work. Produced in Sweden, Denmark, Scotland, and Germany the images respond to the hardship which lead these people to flee their homelands and make the difficult journey to an alien country in the hope of something more.
Descent is the beginning of an ongoing collaboration between my mother and I which seeks to unravel connections of blood, fate, politics, and love through generations of familial ties. It also represents an intense and intimate journey taken by my mother and I to retrace and preserve these histories.