Constructed Family Portraits

In the Constructed Family Portrait series, I found strangers on the Internet and in public and invited them to meet me in rented hotel rooms to pose as artificial families for the camera. What appear at first glance to be conventional studio portraits, documents of genuine intimacy, are in fact fictions. I am interested in the space between the image and reality. The photograph documents a staged performance, undermining its traditional role as witness to or evidence of a truth. There are multiple truths and falsehoods embedded in each image, and each image increasingly serves as a substitute for memory. The family portrait depicts a particular mythology or stereotypical ideal of a happy life, yet family is an ongoing performance where roles are assigned, with a constant expectation of an audience, both private and public. Gender and hierarchical norms are enforced through the family, and the act is rehearsed much like a script to a dramatic play. I’m interested in both the performance of the portrait and our innate fluency in its codes and gestures, as well as the shifting paradigm of the traditional family structure. The work explores the public image of family, themes of photographic truth, gender, class, culture and identity. As indicated by the titles of each work, each family is given the name of the hotel where the photograph was taken.


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