Tanja Alexia Hollander, Photographer 
friend at

Auburn, Maine

Photographer Tanja Hollander is interested in how we define friendship and who we let into our private yet very public online lives. So she’s set out to make portraits of all of her Facebook friends (626 when she started the project) in their homes, which are scattered around the country and the world.

What started out as a personal documentary on friendship and environmental portraiture has turned into an exploration of American culture, relationships, generosity and compassion, family structure,
community building, story telling and meal sharing, the economy and class, our relationship to technology & travel in the 21st century, social networking, memory, and the history of the portrait. Following in the footsteps of the FSA photographers and Robert Frank she has out to see America and to record how our society uses photography, the portrait social media to create and define our existence.

It's an intimate act to photograph and be photographed, and to have an outsider in your home bearing a camera. Along the way, Hollander is blogging about the people she meets, the food she eats, and the sights she sees.

The end of the project will culminate in a book, real life exhibition, and all of her friends simultaneously changing their profile picture to the portrait she takes of them.

Hollander graduated with BA in photography & film from Hampshire College. Her work has been exhibited nationally and she is represented by Jim Kempner Fine Art in NYC and Carroll & Sons in Boston.

Follow her at and on facebook at



Kristen Levesque
Director of Marketing and Public Relations
(207) 775-6148, ext. 3223

For release: Immediate


(Portland, Maine) Social media has become a fundamental part of society. Its convenience allows instantaneous communication and a level of familiarity with those we know well and many we don’t know at all. Are You Really My Friend? The Social Media Portrait Project, on view February 4 through June 17, 2012, at the Portland Museum of Art, includes portraits that explore friendships in the context of social media. Maine photographer Tanja Hollander captures the intimacy of friendship by stepping behind the computer screen and into the private homes of her more than 600 Facebook friends. This will be Hollander’s first solo exhibition at the Museum. Are You Really My Friend? The Social Media Portrait Project is the fourth in a series of exhibitions called Circa that explores compelling aspects of contemporary art in the state of Maine and beyond.

Since January 2011, Hollander has traveled around the country, and soon the world, to visit all of her Facebook friends: some new, some old, some very close, and some not so close. In December 2011, Hollander will conduct a multi-phased series of public exercises. Some phases are designed to foster audience participation and others are about collaborative curation and are intended to explore, emulate, and remark upon the various stages and layers of "friendship" in a Facebookian sense. Each phase is intended, as social media is purported to do, to maximize public involvement and invite feedback as to what it means to intertwine the private into the hyper public.Twenty-five photographs will remain the same throughout the exhibition with many more being added. The process for the selection of the additional images will be open, collaborative, and participatory. In the exhibition, visitors will be invited to comment on questions such as: Are we supposed to acknowledge the artist’s creativity, photographic skill, role within the tradition of portraiture, or should we critique the management of her Facebook page?

Internationally known for her work as a landscape photographer, Tanja Hollander shifted her focus in 2011, to embark on a new venture as a portrait artist. “My project is an exploration of friendships, the effects of social networks and the intimate places we call home,” said Hollander. “Facebook seemed an ideal forum for this exploration. Though we are in the initial stages of understanding the affects of social networking on American culture and photography, there is a pervasive feeling that it is changing our interactions with each other and building a false sense of community.” By reaching past the profile page, Hollander is invited into the everyday environment of her Facebook friends and discovers a portrait dictated by the physical nature of friendship and home, instead of the virtual one.

Tanja Hollander was born in St. Louis, Missouri in 1972 and she moved to Maine after receiving a B.A. in photography, film, and feminist studies in 1994 from Hampshire College. Her work has been exhibited nationally at galleries in New York City and Boston and has twice been selected for the Portland Museum of Art Biennial, winning a purchase prize in 2007. She has also exhibited at the Bernard Toale Gallery in Boston, Massachusetts; Whitney Art Works in Portland, Maine; and the Jim Kempner Fine Art in New York. In 1994 Hollander opened and directed Dead Space Gallery, Portland’s first art venue for local art, music, spoken word, and performance. Hollander founded and became the volunteer director of the Bakery Photographic Collective in 2001, a nonprofit member-based darkroom facility in Westbrook, Maine. In 2009, she was nominated and chosen for a month long residency at the La Napoule art foundation in La Napoule, France. Hollander is represented by Carroll and Sons in Boston, Massachusetts and Jim Kempner in New York City. She is currently a resident of Auburn, Maine.

The Museum showcases two Circa exhibitions per year featuring the work of living artists from Maine any beyond, in both group and solo formats. Are You Really My Friend? The Social Media Portrait Project, is curated by Museum Director Mark H.C. Bessire. For more information on the project, and

Circa is a series of exhibitions featuring the work of living artists from Maine and beyond. Circa is made possible by S. Donald Sussman. Corporate support provided by The VIA Agency.

(Image credit: Tanja Hollander (b.1972), June Fitzpatrick, Portland, Maine, 2011, archival pigment prints, 9 ½ x 9 ½ inches, Courtesy of Carroll & Sons, Boston, Massachusetts.)

The Portland Museum of Art, Maine’s largest art museum, showcases fine and decorative arts from the 18th century to the present. From Winslow Homer and Andrew Wyeth to Pablo Picasso and Claude Monet, the Museum features three centuries of art and architecture. The Museum is located at Seven Congress Square in downtown Portland. Hours are: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday, and 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday. Memorial Day through Columbus Day, the Museum is open on Mondays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Museum admission is $10 for adults, $8 for seniors and students with I.D., $4 for youth ages 6 to 17, and children under 6 are free. The Museum is free on Friday evenings from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., made possible through the generous support of L.L.Bean. No admission is required to visit the Museum Café and Store. For more information, call (207) 775-6148 or visit

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