Portrait | Nominee

Nora Bibel

Berlin/Germany www.nora-bibel.de

FAMILY COMES FIRST - Joint family portraits in Bangalore, India


In India, the joint family is a holy institution that is deeply rooted in the Hindu faith. In a traditional Indian joint family, three generations live under one roof and all share one kitchen.

As a rule, the sons and their new families stay with their parents, so it may easily happen that 20 or more persons live together in one house. As modern society is developing at an ever increasing rate in India, this form of family life is now becoming difficult to find, particularly in larger cities. Nevertheless, the joint family is still a highly respected institution and there are many families who hang on to the idea. Very often, at least three generations still live together under one roof.

Being from Berlin, for me the concept of ‚family comes first‘ and the joint family is a fascinating phenomenon. Thanks to the invitation of the Goethe Institute in Bangalore to spend time as an artist in residence in November and December of 2014, I was able to enjoy the wonderful experience of meeting such families and finding out more about their way of life.

The work from this period is a collection of portraits of joint families in Bangalore. Without exception, each picture was arranged and posed in the living rooms of the families. The interplay of staged and authentic reality continues to fascinate me every time I call it to mind. Concepts of family and home have been the subject of a number of my projects for quite a long time.

I took old family portraits as an inspiration for staging my pictures. As in the past, the long exposure times force the persons in my pictures to appear very stiff, serious and still. The arrangement of the family members in the portraits clearly reveals family relationships and hierarchies. My choice of families covers the entire social spectrum of Indian society. The complete series contains more than 30 family portraits.