Domestic Portraits

Domestic Portraits is a series of photographs of Philippina live-in housekeepers and their female employers in Hong Kong. It emerged from a larger interest in the subjective limitations of the portrait photograph.

In Hong Kong, a special administrative region of China, with a population of 7 million, there are approximately 130,000 women from the Philippines working as full-time domestic helpers. This very loaded and polarizing relationship has sparked all manner of debates over issues of race, power, economics, gender and human rights; and has a tendency to provoke unconsidered assumptions about what is in fact a deeply complex and interdependent relationship. By creating images that maintain a neutrality and offer dispassionate visual and factual points of conjectural entry, I hope to simultaneously invite such assumptions and create a reflexive awareness of their arbitrary subjectivity.

Tanja Geis is an artist and researcher interested in socially and environmentally engaged art that can positively and practically transform the human/environment relationship. This series of photographs is part of an older body of work that explores person-to-person relationships.

Half Chinese and half German she grew up in Hong Kong and has since lived in the United States, China, Iceland, and England. She holds Bachelor of Arts in Fine Art from Yale University and a Masters of Resource Management in Marine and Coastal Management from the University of Akureyri in Iceland. You may find samples of her work at