The exhibition Chosen Family – Less Alone Together draws on international positions and works from the collection of Fotomuseum Winterthur to shed light on photography’s treatment of the (elective) family and its representation of it as a social and cultural construct. In addition to the works of professional photographers and artists, the museum also presents personal photo albums, showing the family stories of people from Winterthur and from all over Switzerland.
The exhibition Chosen Family – Less Alone Together presents works by contemporary photographers who delve into their own family history. Alba Zari’s work involves a reappraisal of her own family history mediated by pictures from her family archive and contemporary photographic documents. The artist – who was born into a fundamentalist Christian sect – uses scraps of text and image fragments to investigate the history of her family and explore her own identity in the process.
Other artists present themselves and members of their family in sometimes elaborately staged settings, reflecting on the roles played by the individual family members and the photographers’ own position within this constellation. Charlie Engman, for example, presents his ‘mom’ in settings that have little in common with our conception of a mother’s everyday reality and calls into question the one-dimensional image of the caring mother.
Other artistic explorations focus on the fact that family can be defined by much more than just (blood) kinship. These works show how photography can be a means of creating new ‘images of family’ that offer an alternative to middle-class notions of it. Photographer Mark Morrisroe, for example, depicts a sense of cohesiveness apart from kinship in portraits of his friends and lovers. The pictures reveal the connection between the protagonists, expressing complicity and a sense of belonging, an embodiment of the idea of elective family.
With works by Aarati Akkapeddi, Richard Billingham, Larry Clark, Charlie Engman, Seiichi Furuya, Nan Goldin, Pixy Liao, Diana Markosian, Anne Morgenstern, Mark Morrisroe, Dayanita Singh, Lindokuhle Sobekwa, Annelies Štrba, Leonard Suryajaya and Alba Zari. Christoph Merian Verlag will publish the book ChosenFamily – Less Alone Together as an adjunct to the exhibition.