Family Lines

Going through the photo archives of my family, I found albums of pictures taken for identity cards, passports, and the like, with faces customarily devoid of any expression. I see collars of school uniforms, working clothes, shirts, dresses, relatively unchanged in their styles for the past eighty years, with the only notable detail being the current eyeglass fashion at the time of being photographed. Without smiles and emotions, most of the faces are barely recognisable. 

 

Everyone is unique, yet looks the same. I try to put together the pieces of the puzzle, figuring out who is who and when. The seriality of these portraits overwhelms me, and the subjects in the portraits appear familiar, yet strange. I am alienated from the individuality of the subjects of these portraits.

For this series of photos, I experimented with scanning the portraits, and recreated the seriality of an endless lines of similar portraits into long vertical images. Family lines in scanlines. This transformation reflects my alienation, blurring the distinctions between strange vs. familiar, close vs. at a distance, then vs. now.  The only closure to this alienation is my own facticity: one day, perhaps, someone will be looking at my portrait in the continuum of family lines in these albums.

*Third round finalist in Foam Talent Award 2019 
 

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© 2019 by Chiu Yee Ling