German photographer Katharina Mayer’s ongoing project Theatrum Familiae (2001 – ) presents a series of portraits that focus on the family as an enduring way of life. Travelling to various cities, the artist photographs her subjects in the place where they feel most comfortable: at home. The family is still the primary means for the passing on of moral values, and through Mayer’s images we can see the different forms this institution currently takes. With her wide-ranging series of portraits comes an understanding about just how complex and varied families are today.
The artist’s approach to the genre of portraiture also indicates a current shift in attitudes regarding private and public space. Whereas in the past, families went to a photographer’s studio to have their portrait taken, today the home is considered more desirable for this purpose. This suggests a shift in definitions of public display and private experience. Mayer takes it as her task to test and explore this shift.
In preparation for her exhibit, Katharina Mayer visited Toronto from March 22 to April 5. Local families were invited to commission a portrait, some of which have been included in the exhibition