Room One focuses on memories, identity and reality. It began as an attempt to find a family member who has been gone for almost my entire life. His name was Leif. He was an alcoholic, and he was also my grandfather. That was all I knew about him. The only visual memory I have of him from when I was child, is of his hand holding a cigarette.
Driven by curiosity, I’m now trying to put together different pieces of a visual puzzle to learn more about the story of my grandfather. What little I know of him is mixed with my own memories and ideas. This project is an attempt to dig deeper into my own family history.
Even though the family kept the alcoholism a secret, it left its mark on us. It is said that “all happy families are alike, but every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” (Leo Tolstoy)
One can feel alone in a family where there is a great deal of alcohol, but that is not the case here. Alcoholism is found in all social classes and all types of families, but it is tabooed and stigmatising. By telling a personal story about an alcoholic grandfather, I want to examine both who my grandfather really was, and also how he has left his mark on me, on my identity and my family. As a photographer, I am interested in relationships and how they affect us. To what extent can traumas be inherited and shape a family?
Simen R. Ulvestad is an artist and photographer. He was educated at Bilder Nordic School of Photography and he works on assignments and personal documentary projects. Simen is a regular photographer and stage technician for the theatre group Susie Wang.