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 the Curator and Artistic Director of the 2019 Venice Biennale of Art, May You Live in Interesting Times.  In 2015 he served as Guest Curator of the XIII Biennale de Lyon in 2015 titled La vie moderne. He has been the Director of the Hayward Gallery of London since 2006, where he has curated numerous group shows including The Painting of Modern Life (2007), Psycho Buildings (2008), and The Infinite Mix (2016); he also has curated major retrospectives and solo exhibitions by Ed Ruscha, Jeremy Deller, Carsten Holler, Tracey Emin and George Condo.  Before coming to London he was Director (2000-06) of CCA Wattis Institute, at California College of the Arts in San Francisco.  Between 1985 and 2002 he wrote art and cultural criticism for numerous periodicals, publishing widely in art magazines as well as newspapers, including Artforum, Artpresse, FlashArt, Frieze, Parkett, Grand Street, The Financial Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Los Angeles Weekly and published a collection of essays, Circus Americanus (1995), in which he explored cultural phenomena of the American West. During the same period he began working as an independent curator, organizing exhibitions such as Just Pathetic (1990) and Scene of the Crime (1997).


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

NEW YORK, NY 10013
T: +1 212 254 8200 F: +1 212 477 4781
E: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)