What if the person you trusted the most committed a crime and ended up in prison? Many people can’t imagine their family member committing a crime. Neither did the people I met.
‘Family Stranger’ is about the families of detainees after they find out that their family member has been convicted of a crime. The family has ethical questions to deal with and because of this, their relationships with one another can come under great pressure. A long process of re-evaluation starts. Family members find themselves assessing the relationship with the criminal family member, reflecting on their love for them and whether they can live with what they have done.
The purpose of Family Stranger is to create awareness of the struggles that families endure. I noticed that this is not an easy subject for families to talk about. Most of the children I spoke for the project were concerned that it could create more distance with people around them and don’t like talking about it. Often, adults also experience the topic as taboo, or at least very difficult. I admire the strength of these families. They try to continue with their lives as positively as possible, but at the same time, they are often confronted with hard realities about the choices made by their criminal family member.
Family Stranger depicts the diversity of how families deal with this situation. Some of the families shown have decided to end their relationship with the criminal family member. Others try to get to know each other again after a few years of separation.
Through my project, I want to show that the family around and beyond the prisoner is also ‘convicted’. The members of the family can experience a kind of imprisonment in their own world. The lives of these families continue, filled with judgment and shame, whilst the criminal enters a sort of time capsule in separation from the real world.