About This Project

Francesca Hummler


Die Krippe / Tätowierung

«For “Tätowierung” or “Tattoo”, I digitized a family portrait from my family’s photo album and printed it on my grandmother’s skin using a UV-sensitive photo polymer plate ink transfer process typical in print-making. This metaphorical gesture comments on the gendered burden women in my family have to perform maternal duties and highlights my grandmother’s labor as the family’s caregiver. I engage with the history of image-making while considering my role as the only woman in the history of my family older than twenty-four, openly queer, educated, and unmarried.

This project draws on my discoveries about my family during talk sessions with my grandparents. Engaging my grandparents in this form of photo-therapy reaffirmed my belief that generational trauma lives on in the body and that I inherited wounds from a culture I grew up outside of. By blending photographic techniques, I explore the role of the medium in modern-day family dynamics and reflect on how artistic practices are affected by the archive. 

[For Die Krippe] I have been photographing my younger sister for over ten years. I started taking it more seriously when she expressed to me her disappointment over not having any photographs of herself as a baby, from the time before our family adopted her. Our photography projects can be seen as photo-therapy, because the act of photographing helps build her self-confidence, untangle her identity as a young black girl in our German-American family, and battle any insecurities she, like many other adolescents, may have about her appearance. This series entitled “Unsere Puppenstube” or “Our Dollhouse”, deals with the adverse and borderline racist reactions my parents received from our extended family in Germany when she was first adopted and her need to remember what little knowledge she has about her biological family. 


In this image she steps into the crib inside a dollhouse that was first constructed by our great grandparents, continued by our grandparents, and finished by our father. My sister and I furnished the dollhouse together with items that have been passed down through our family’s generations. This act symbolizes the legitimacy of her claim to my family’s generational memory, despite possible objections from ignorant relatives. In fact, my great-grandmother, who never had the chance to meet my sister, also adopted a child who was orphaned during World War II. 


The way my sister interacts with the dollhouse in this image mimics occurrences of situational feelings of outsideness. An example of which being when my mother and I converse in Schwäbisch, the dialect of German that we speak, around her. This work felt important to make because my relationship with my sister is often thrown into question, especially by strangers in public, who try to decode how we fit together. Photography allows me to express the responsibility I feel to emotionally support my sister through any challenges she may face as a result of growing up in a white family, especially as the United States continues to be divided along racial lines. The audience for this work is anyone who has ever felt out of place although they belong. I expect that racial relations will come to be less foregrounded than they are now, as the love I have for my sister becomes more common.»



6th edition