Domestic Portraits, 2007
Domestic Portraits is a series of photographs of Filipina live-in domestic workers and their female employers taken in their places of employment/homes in Hong Kong. I grew up with a live-in helper in Hong Kong where it is not at all unusual for even middle class families to employ live-in help. It was only upon moving to America at sixteen did I begin to reflect on the phenomena and how it was interpreted by the new society I was living in. Rather than hoping to provide insight into the relationship between domestic worker and employer, which is infinitely varied, complex and subtle, the series was interested in how the portrait photograph inevitably falls short of its promise to reveal truth about its subject. I wanted to explore how portraits of these women, involved in a category of relation steeped in highly-charged economic, social, cultural and political narratives, might act instead as portraits of our own biases, assumptions and projections.