Tanja Hollander Exhibition Explores Friendship in Virtual Age at MASS MoCA

Tanja Hollander, Rhonda Wanser, Topsham, Maine

(NORTH ADAMS, Mass.) – “Are you really my friend?”, an exhibition of hundreds of photographs by Maine-based artist Tanja Hollander that explores the nature of friendships real and virtual, opens at MASS MoCA on Saturday, February 18. An opening reception for the exhibit will be held on Saturday, March 18, from 5:30pm to 7pm, in conjunction with openings for new exhibitions by Liz King, Steffani Jemison, and Chris Domenick.

In February 2011, Tanja Hollander set out to photograph 626 of her Facebook friends in their homes around the world. In June 2015, her final 430th portrait was made in Tel Aviv, after traveling to 4 continents, 12 countries, 34 states, 180 cities/towns, 260 zip codes, and 424 homes. This working project evolved into a multimedia art experience that records how we all reshape our lives through photography and digital experiences.

In “Are you really my friend?”, Hollander delves into themes of privacy, contemporary culture, family structure, social networking, and human relationships in the 21st century. She examines both our on-line and off-line experiences, and incorporates the ideas of compassion and empathy into our modern-day experiences. Ultimately, Hollander intends for the exhibition to be a “collection of portraits that create a window into the home as each subject defines it, a collection of multi-generational and demographic views on friendship, and a slice of life on the road as a lady artist for over five years.”

“Are you really my friend?” features 430 portraits of Hollander’s Facebook friends, landscapes of the places she traveled, snapshots of what she discovered along the way, thousands of images of travel ephemera (such as boarding passes, receipts, gifts, notes, etc.), and a short documentary about the project directed by Robin Greenspun.

Tanja Hollander, What is a real friend? (the post-it note project)

Additionally, partway through the project, Hollander also began collecting Post-it notes asking people to answer the question, “What is a real friend?” She has collected thousands of these across the world and held two collection sessions at MASS MoCA during the 2015 Solid Sound and FreshGrass music festivals. Visitors to Hollander’s exhibition will be able to add their own Post-it musings on friendship throughout the run of the show.


About the Artist

Tanja Alexia Hollander (b. 1972, St. Louis, Missouri) received a B.A. in photography, film, and feminist studies from Hampshire College in 1994. Selections from “Are you really my friend?” have been exhibited at the Portland Museum of Art, Maine; Virei Viral, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; and the Deutsches Hygiene-Museum, Dresden, Germany. Receiving international media attention for the project, Hollander was invited to give a TEDxDirigo talk in 2012, and has lectured extensively at Demanio Marittimo.KM-278, Marzocca, Italy; the University of Maryland; Clemson University; SXSW; and Facebook headquarters. Hollander is represented by Carroll and Sons in Boston, Mass. She is currently a resident of Auburn, Maine.



MASS MoCA is one of the world’s liveliest (and largest) centers for making, displaying, and enjoying today’s most important art, music, dance, theater, film, and video. MASS MoCA will nearly double its gallery space in spring 2017, with artist partnerships that include Laurie Anderson, the Louise Bourgeois Trust, Jenny Holzer, the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, and James Turrell.

Gallery admission is $18 for adults, $16 for veterans and seniors, $12 for students, $8 for children 6 to 16, and free for children 5 and under through May 21, 2017. Members are admitted free year-round. The Hall Art Foundation’s Anselm Kiefer exhibition is open seasonally, spring – fall. For additional information, call 413.662.2111 x1 or visit MASS MoCA.

Hours: 11am to 5pm, closed Tuesdays




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.