by Birthe Piontek

Abendlied (Engl. Evening Song) is a personal exploration into the topics of family, memory, and loss. I moved from Germany to Canada in 2005. Over the course of the past six years, I have taken pictures of my family whenever visiting Germany. The result captures the last years of my parents in their house —my childhood home– where they had lived for almost 40 years before having to move due to my mother’s battle with Dementia.
Abendlied examines how individual relationships in a family are shaped by the processes of growing up, ageing, and eventually letting go. It reveals how this circle of life not only contributes to an ebb and flow of connection but also to a feeling of separation within the family bond.
The project aims to look at the elements that create a family: not just the genes, but also the stories and secrets, as well as the objects that we surround ourselves with. The things that have always been there, are handed down, and make up the tangible and visible material that turns houses into homes. In this series, they become poetic stand-ins for underlying emotions and the “unspeakable” that is unique to each family.
Although a personal inquiry, Abendlied reflects on the broader psychological components of identity, heritage and belonging. How are we shaped by the place we call home? What happens to us when we lose this foundational base? How does it continue to live inside of us, even if it ceases to exist in its physical form? Can it be replaced? These questions are an essential byproduct of our human condition, and even though individual answers may vary, we are undeniably united as humans by the fact that the place we come from leaves a fundamental imprint on us.


the book