Shoot the Family

  • Shoot the Family installation view, Cranbrook Art Museum, 2006.

  • Shoot the Family installation view, Cranbrook Art Museum, 2006.

  • Shoot the Family installation view, Cranbrook Art Museum, 2006.

  • Shoot the Family installation view, Western Gallery, 2006.

Curated by Ralph Rugoff

Family dynamics and the melodrama of domestic life figure prominently in the field of contemporary art. This exhibition focuses on artists’ portrayals of members of their own families, presenting photography and video works made during the last ten years by artists active in North America, Europe, and Asia. Allowing a glimpse into the daily lives of the individuals behind the cameras, these videos and photographs reveal that family matters are never simply personal, but inevitably encompass broader historical, social, and economic concerns. The family settings are used to investigate an array of contemporary issues, including the impact of war and financial hardship (dealt with by Yasser Aggour and Mitch Epstein, for example), the power of gender and ethnic stereotypes (Gillian Wearing, Sanford Biggers, Jennifer Zacklin), and changing marital and generational roles (Janine Antoni, Malerie Marder).

These artists offer a multi-layered representation of the family as a social institution rich with emotional associations and historical precedents. The approaches they employ include practices inspired by documentary and staged photography, as well as Conceptual art and Performance art. Presenting scenarios of emotional closeness as well as failed connection, they explore undercurrents of ambivalence, conflict, fantasy, and eroticism. The works featured here shed light on the formation of each individual’s physical, cultural, and sexual identity or, in some cases, the values and traits they have passed along to families of their own. Diverse, imaginatively incisive, and visually compelling, these works transform that most familiar artifact—the family photograph—into an illuminating investigation of contemporary culture.



Ralph Rugoff

Ralph Rugoff is Director of the Hayward Gallery in London. Since his appointment in 2006, he has curated numerous acclaimed exhibitions including, Psycho Buildings: Artists Take On Architecture, The Painting of Modern Life and most recently, Jeremy Deller: Joy in People. He was previously Director of the California College of the Arts (CCA) Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, and was the founding chair of CCA’s Graduate Program in Curatorial Practice. His publications include monographs on George Condo, Mark Wallinger and Anya Gallacio, as well as Circus American, Scene of the Crime, and At the Threshold of the Visible. In 2005, he won the inaugural Ordway Prize in the category of arts writer and/or curator from the Penny McCall Foundation.


touring schedule

Columbus College of Art and Design
Columbus, OH, United States
September 13, 2007 - November 7, 2007

Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis
Saint Louis, MO, United States
May 18, 2007 - August 5, 2007

Massachusetts College of Art
Boston, MA, United States
January 17, 2007 - March 14, 2007

Knoxville Museum of Art
Knoxville, TN, United States
June 23, 2006 - September 3, 2006

Cranbrook Art Museum
Bloomfield Hills, MI, United States
February 4, 2006 - April 2, 2006

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