Are You Really My Friend? The Facebook Portrait Project by Tanja Alexia Hollander
On New Year’s Eve of 2010, Tanja Alexia Hollander sat at home (yep, she stayed in on New Year’s Eve) writing a letter to a friend recently deployed to Afghanistan, while simultaneously instant messaging another friend working on a film in Jakarta. The dichotomy between the old and new forms of communication got Tanja thinking about friendship and its relationship to Facebook and other forms of social media. She wondered, What is friendship? And is it photgraphable? She decided to find out.
Through fundraising, and grant support, Tanja got the funds necessary to begin her photographic quest. In March of 2011, the Westbrook-based photographer embarked on an ambitious, and very much “information age” project: to connect with all her Facebook friends in real life, and take their portraits. With 626 Facebook friends, I’m not kiddin’ when I say ambitious.
Now, just over a year into the project, Tanja has been to 16 different different states and photographed around 200 of her Facebook friends. “People are really excited,” she told me, “They cook for me, offer me drinks. Moms are the best. They give you stuff to-go.”