Being next of kin - so much more than family
Published January 14th 2022
"Colleagues can also be next of kin. In 2020 artist colleagues of Brynhild Bye-Tiller became important next of kin. Photo credit: © Brynhild Bye-Tiller

Written by
Brynhild Bye-Tiller
During lockdown, I've reflected on many things: What can artists do in a time of crisis? What values emerge? Are artists as much on the front lines of the pandemic as essential workers are? Workers who received well-deserved attention at the beginning of pandemic because of their socially critical tasks. Suddenly they became everyday heroes. Now they are forgotten. Digital projects during Covid-19 has taught me a lot about digital dissemination platforms and the value of supporting each other. I feel a strong connection towards my colleagues, participants and partners.
The Kintsugi Project
A group of women came together in January 2021 to discuss, investigate and share experiences of being next of kin. They asked themselves who are the next of kin? Is it your family or someone else? The Kintsugi Project began with a mobile photography workshop, which became the basis for further research and exhibitions about role next of kin play.

What is your first thought on hearing the word 'next of kin'? Taking care of someone in your family, or a friend in a life crisis? The satisfaction of helping someone you care about? Or a heavy burden to carry? What does it mean to be a next of kin and what happens if for some reason you are not able to care for a friend or a relative?
The Kintsugi Project was an art project based on a photographic social art practice. The methods and the structure of the project made this clear. The project was developed by artist Brynhild Bye-Tiller in cooperation with For Prisoner's next of kin (FFP), South-Trøndelag Red Cross and North-Trøndelag Red Cross by Network after serving time, Door Opener and Good Head/ABC and also LINK Trondheim.

The name Kintsugi comes from a Japanese craft tradition, where one puts together the bits from a broken ceramic bowl with gold. To make it yet stronger and even more beautiful. The creative process in developing the exhibitions was repair work that dealt with both positive and negative aspects of kinship relations.

The Kintsugi Project was supported by Trøndelag County Council, Trondheim municipality and NBK Vederlagsfondet.

© 2021 Brynhild Bye-Tiller. All Rights Reserved.