Register Tuesday | August 11 | 2020

Seasons of Separation

A photo essay.

Soon after my husband, daughter and I moved into our new apartment in Montreal, I started photographing scenes of our dining room table. My family had given us the table as a housewarming gift, and we’d put it near a window where it got natural light. A few months later, my husband and I separated, and I kept the table and the apartment. 

Over the next three years, I kept photographing the same surface; returning to the grounding and familiar location helped me make sense of my experience. The table seemed like a fitting place to explore the changing nature of family and home. It’s where we eat meals and play games. As a gathering place for families, a table usually brings people together, which makes it an interesting—if fraught—subject for a series about separation. 

I kept my tripod in the dining room permanently. When the light was right, or when the feeling struck, my daughter and I posed for the camera. Sometimes I created scenes to capture our emotional states, changing our expressions or surroundings. Other times, we simply posed as we were. Over the years, I moved the camera three times to create four different points of view, or “seasons.” Each change in perspective represented a transition to a new place in my separation journey. The camera is still in its fourth position right now. 

These images mix the real with the fictional. In one, you see my daughter in her uniform on her first-ever day of school. In another, a hand mysteriously appears from underneath one of my grandmother’s blankets. Some objects were simply left on the table after being used, while others were placed there intentionally. A few images are composites of multiple photographs taken at once, resulting in ghostly figures that signify loss, uncertainty and multiple selves torn in different directions.  Making these photographs has helped me express the transformations and waves of emotion I’ve experienced over the past three years. It’s been therapeutic to capture the peaks and valleys of this tumultuous time. 

I finished this series before the pandemic began. And yet, there are many parallels between these images and our current confinement; I realized that I’d been capturing something that many of us are now experiencing.

“Seasons of Separation” explores loss, grief and coming to terms with a new reality. It’s about remaking myself, and understanding who I am in this new world as a separated and single parent. It’s also about domesticity, recognizing how I’m relating to my home in new ways. Most of all, these photographs convey the anxiety that comes with accepting a new normal—and moving into an unknown that had once been unthinkable.