New East Digital Archive

Scenes from a marriage: what happens when you press rewind on your parents’ life?

Family Drawing, a photo series by Hungarian photographer Viola Fátyol, is both an exploration of family as a universal unit of human community and a deeply personal journey. Fátyol worked on the project from 2008 to 2012 together with her parents, who are featured in the photographs. The resulting photos are based on the everyday details of her family’s life. “I used visual memories from my childhood and restaged them in the present,” says Fátyol. “My grandmother washing my hair, my mother cradling me, my mother scratching my father’s back, my mother trying to give a shape to my father’s beard and so on. I looked for these gestures in our present everyday life, too — as visual elements which could be enriched with additional meanings.” Asking her parents to switch roles and placing them in different settings brought a subtle but emotional charge to mundane situations that proved surprising affecting for her parents. “They said that seeing the results were often surprising and sometimes moving for them,” says Fátyol. “They felt that in the pictures they were speaking out the unspoken questions of their joint life that neither of them had asked before.”