100 Words: Photographers Speak

100 Words: Seeking Distant Relations

"Distant Relations" portrays the dispersal of my family from Lithuania throughout the world. Photographs specific to each place portray my search to understand and represent both my identity and the journey taken by my family.

  • In the town of Grinkiskis, a woman recounts the story of the day in 1941, when she saw a group of Jews marched out along the road and taken into the forest to be murdered.
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    In the town of Grinkiskis, a woman recounts the story of the day in 1941, when she saw a group of Jews marched out along the road and taken into the forest to be murdered.
    Lori Grinker
  • Entryway to the old Jewish cemetery and place of genocide. Village of Ylakiai, Skuodas district, Lithuania
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    Entryway to the old Jewish cemetery and place of genocide. Village of Ylakiai, Skuodas district, Lithuania
    Lori Grinker
  • View from Tsum department store where Ruwim Grinker has been an engineer for over 35 years, Kharkov, Ukraine.
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    View from Tsum department store where Ruwim Grinker has been an engineer for over 35 years, Kharkov, Ukraine.
    Lori Grinker
  • Ruwim Grinker's dacha (cabin), outskirts of Kharkov, Ukraine, 2008
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    Ruwim Grinker's dacha (cabin), outskirts of Kharkov, Ukraine, 2008
    Lori Grinker
  • On the ride back from Ruwin Grinker's cabin, Olhovka, Ukraine, 2008
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    On the ride back from Ruwin Grinker's cabin, Olhovka, Ukraine, 2008
    Lori Grinker
  • Anthony and Hildah Grinker (after picking avocados from the yard), Luxmi, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, 2005
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    Anthony and Hildah Grinker (after picking avocados from the yard), Luxmi, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, 2005
    Lori Grinker
  • Cricket practice, Daniel Grinker (front center), son of Russell Grinker and Gail Kirchmann, at Selborne School, East London, South Africa, 2005
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    Cricket practice, Daniel Grinker (front center), son of Russell Grinker and Gail Kirchmann, at Selborne School, East London, South Africa, 2005
    Lori Grinker
  • Daniel and Lucy Grinker on their way to school, East London, South Africa, 2005
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    Daniel and Lucy Grinker on their way to school, East London, South Africa, 2005
    Lori Grinker
  • Gustave Grinker (my great-grandfather) settled in Paterson, N.J., when he emigrated to America. My grandfather, Abraham, my aunt, Rosalie, and my father, Charles were born in Paterson.
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    Gustave Grinker (my great-grandfather) settled in Paterson, N.J., when he emigrated to America. My grandfather, Abraham, my aunt, Rosalie, and my father, Charles were born in Paterson.
    Lori Grinker
  • Home of Dr. Roy Richard (Dick) and Florence Grinker, Chicago, Ill., 2009
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    Home of Dr. Roy Richard (Dick) and Florence Grinker, Chicago, Ill., 2009
    Lori Grinker

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War, oppression, the search for better opportunities and more freedom are among the reasons families disperse every day. "Distant Relations" is about how, more than a century later, this family has reconnected, and forged links between present and past.

My path has been determined by my curiosity. These photographs are places I am looking in on, representing what could have been; together, they offer an impressionistic map, illustrating the displacement that is intrinsic to diaspora.

Lori Grinker is a photographer and teacher based in New York City. Her work has earned her a World Press Photo Foundation Prize, a W. Eugene Smith Memorial Fund fellowship, and the Ernst Hass Grant, among others. More of Lori's work can be found on her website or on Kickstarter.


100 Words is a series in which photographers describe their work, in their own words. Curated by Graham Letorney

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