Daughters without fathers

Sina Opalka

2019 - Ongoing

Germany; Switzerland; Morocco

There are plenty of studies about fatherless girls and women, voices which explain how child- and adulthood is effected by the absence of a father figure. Needless to say that most of what we hear is that women who grew up without a father figure suffer from a lack of self esteem or expect their partner in a relationship to replace what they haven´t received from their fathers such as protection, safety and unconditional love.

When I started to search for girls and women of all age without father I didn´t mean "without" wordly. All people who identify as females and which I portrayed knew their father, had met him at least once. Reasons why they ended up growing up without him are plenty. There is death, disability, lack of interest, crime and rejection. While the experience of being "fatherless" is a more or less rough defintion, the question after "why and how" brings us to where it all starts. A father who died and simply hadn´t the abilty anymore to care for his daughter will leave another trace than a father who consciously rejects his daughter or doesn´t love her.

I am not interested in promoting a stigma or serve cliches. I am interested in paying attention to a shared experience which could be described as "same same but different". Even though most of the girls I had talked to described their fatherlessness as "normal" they still are aware of the fact that something essential was missing.

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  • Alex.

  • Alex father has been a soldier, known for his violence. One of her last memories is her father violating her mother. What remains is this collection of butterflies. The affinity for such vulnerable and sensitive creatures allows insight into a person who is foreign to her.

  • Afra and sister. Story untold.

  • "Teddy. Most of my life, my father had been absent, either because of being imprisioned or in times of liberty, lack of interest. He never made me a gift. Instead he would give me money from time to time. When I was 23 he went to prison again. This time, he was sentenced to four years in forensic prison psychiatry. As part of the occupational therapy, he sewed this teddy and sent it in the mail. Before and after that he told me a few times that he never wanted me."

  • Linda. Being the result of a love affair, her father kept her a secret and excluded her from his life.

  • "Feel safe and secure, completely protected. I do not need it.

    Feel empowered and important, completely happy. I do not need it.

    Feel wanted and right, completely loved. I do not need it.

    But I would have liked it.

  • Vera.

  • "Alabaster. There are no handles, there are no anchors. They never were. Even though you thought you had seen them amongst the clouds of your childhood
    No more rocks now, no more monuments, no sacred monsters or stuffed animals. An air balloon escaping your fingers, the digusting bitter taste of tears, hidden in the corners, you are an island,
    at the mercy of the ruthless waves. Truth, only one. Cold, hard, judging far as only marble can be."

  • Kris father had died when she only was three. It was a quick and unforseeable death due to a brain aneurysm. He just was gone and with him almost all the memories.

  • "Second hand stories is all I have and faded pictures of a man I used to call my dad".

  • Jasmin. Daughter to a German woman and a Beninese man. When Jasmin still was a a little girl her father returned to benin where he became a professor at university. He never returned and never showed fatherly attempts to care for his daughter.

  • Patterns of my origins. This scarf is a gift of Jasmins grandmother from Benin. It means a lot to her.