Queering Family Photography will be on display for six weeks at the Stephen Bulger Gallery from Saturday, April 21 to Saturday May 26, 2018. Queering Family Photography, the first exhibition to explore how family photographs reflect, shape, and expand queer forms of affective connection and kinship, will be featured at this year’s Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival. Queering Family Photography, conceptualized by lead curator Elspeth Brown and co-curator Thy Phy, is a co-production of the The Family Camera Network (FamCam), The Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives (CLGA) and the University of Winnipeg through contributions from its Two-Spirited Photography Collection.
The public opening for the exhibition is on Saturday, April 28th, from 2-5 pm at the Stephen Bulger Gallery (1356 Dundas St W, Toronto). The exhibition Friends and Lovers featuring 1970s Montreal Photographs, by renowned artist Sunil Gupta’s, will also be on view at the Stephen Bulger Gallery.
On Thursday April 26th, Sunil Gupta (UK), acclaimed filmmaker Richard Fung (Canada), and prominent Two-Spirited activist Albert McLeod will be part of a roundtable conversation with co-curators Elspeth Brown and Thy Phu. This event is taking place at the University of Toronto’s Hart House East Common Room on Thursday April 26, 5-7pm.
“Queering Family Photography invites visitors to look closely at family photography and its role in shaping and restructuring the intimate lives of LGBTQ2S+ people,” notes Elspeth Brown. “LGBTQ2S+ people have created ‘families’ in multiple ways, including families of choice as well as of origin. Photography offers a direct means of projecting queer joy and a potent resource for survival and resilience.”
A distinctive feature of the exhibition is a 20 minute video of oral histories about queer and trans family photos, drawn from the work of The Family Camera Network, which is collecting queer and trans family photos and oral histories about them, with a focus on migration and racialization. The Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives is one of this project’s two collecting partners. Queering Family Photography has three parts, featuring over 125 objects, including photographs, a video montage of oral history footage and photo albums that are discretely assembled into the separate themes of Instant Intimacies, Domesticities, and Publics.
Features candid Polaroid prints from the 1970s-1990s, a technology that brought desires into view while limiting the threat of public exposure, at a time when non-normative sexualities and genders were strictly surveilled and policed. Though Polaroid has declared bankruptcy, its influence persists in our present era of social media, which embraces the immediacy and spontaneity first introduced by these older instant cameras.
Considers the spaces where families—broadly defined– are formed, made, and remade: as “daddys,” sons, daughters, lovers, and fellow activists, whether inside homes, outside domestic dwellings, on the street, at the beach, in a stairwell, and elsewhere. This section considers how domestic images document more than just private spheres; they also redefine domesticity as an ideology that shapes gender roles and polices sexuality. Domesticities also highlights the generational bonds between parents and children, between romantic partners, and even between strangers who, despite the brevity of their connection, come together in defiance of norms and laws that has criminalized queer desire and gender expression.
Highlights the spaces where the intersections between these spheres are most visible and where domesticities are overtly politicized. These spaces include the spectacle of parades as well as quotidian sites of encounter, including the highly visible streets of the gay village, and less visible ones such as bathhouses—a pivotal venue for the expression of queer desires that has been a target for state suppression. Publics also shows how events, such as pow-wows, afford an opportunity to reflect on Two-Spirited kinship in relationship to Indigenous cultures and queer modes of belonging.
Queering Family Photography exhibition, under the leadership of Elspeth Brown, took the better part of a year to research, interview, select and curate. The project group includes Western University Associate Professor Thy Phu, the CLGA’s Trans Collection archivist Sajdeep Soomal, documentary filmmaker and educator Richard Fung, among others.
For more information, please contact Elspeth Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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