Artist Blog

Every week an artist whose single image was published by Der Greif is given a platform in which to blog about contemporary photography.

Kathryn Harrison – Half in Two

Jul 21, 2018 - Andre Viking

Family as Subject (3/3)


Last but not least is Kathryn Harrison’s series about her brother who suffers from schizophrenia. The series is a powerful portrait of him and his struggles. In many ways it also becomes a portrait of a sister observing her brother and how his struggles affects her and the rest of the family due to the unconditional love between them. Imagery like this needs a lot of bravery in order to be made.


“By definition, unconditional love is boundless. When extended to a loved one with a drug addiction, however, the side effects can be deeply toxic. At the forefront of my family work are these complexities of addiction, chronic disease, and mental illness, alongside their relationship with the human condition. I was recently discussing these realities with my mother, who is currently raising my brother’s infant son after both he and his girlfriend relapsed less than three months after his birth. We shared the fear of every disappearance, every phone call, every court date. My mother’s total gastrectomy was only last year but, due to lupus, her body fights any progress. My brother’s addiction and behavior prohibit my mother from necessary rest and healing. This discord ripples through my family like the waves preceding a tsunami. No one is left untouched—you are forced to swim otherwise you drown.


My family, and photography, operate cyclically. Naturally assuming the role of caretaker to both my mother and brother since I was a child, I struggle with the inherent power dynamic between us all. Can caretaking and caregiving coexist? Do they cancel each other out? What about love and death?”



Darin Mickey, Marina Berio and Kathryn Harrison are some of the inspiring people I got to know during my studies at The International Center of Photography in New York.