Chris Mortenson
Before my feet was lain. My family history has always interested me, but I have never been more than a casual observer. I’d listen to my father and other family members tell the family history while keeping those stories that captivated me for my own narratives and letting others go. This project started after hearing one of those stories that was told as an anecdote inside another story and being instantly captivated by it. In 1882, Bent Mortenson Kjarpaset and Johanne Bakke emigrated to the United States, looking to establish themselves in the new settlement of Howard in the Dakota Territories. They took the railroad to the end of the line in Pipestone, Minnesota and then walked the rest of the 65 miles to Howard in a group with a few other families. In June of 2017, I re-walked this route taking a photograph every 30 seconds as I walked. By the time I reached Howard, I had accumulated 2600 photographs. The images here are the anomalies that were captured during those 65 miles. Images that caught me adjusting my hat, taking a photograph, or waving at passing vehicles. Images that have importance because they are markers for my own journey along the same path. This work certainly has a dialogue with my great-great-grandparents and their own walk from Pipestone to Howard, but it is also about the act of walking itself. Being present as one slowly moves through a landscape. A landscape that I have traveled through quite often. One that has few contour lines on a map and where you see the storm that will pelt you with rain and hail for an hour as you slowly amble towards each other.
© Chris Mortenson 2019