EXHIBITION: The Family Camera - On Now!

This exhibition looks at family photographs as a cultural practice through the lens of migration, and considers the social, political, and technological factors that have impacted how individuals experience and represent family. The Family Camera demonstrates how these images reflect and shape conceptions of self, family, community, and nation. 

Curated by Deepali Dewan, Jennifer Orpana, Thy Phu, Julie Crooks, and Sarah Bassnett, with the assistance of Sarah Parsons and Silvia Forni

Two venues

The Family Camera is organized by the Royal Ontario Museum with the support of The Family Camera Network and presented concurrently at the ROM and the Art Gallery of Mississauga. 

Visit both Museums for the full exhibition experience:

  • At the ROM from May 6 to October 29, 2017
  • At the AGM from May 4 to August 27, 2017

CONFERENCE: Reframing Family Photography (Sept. 21-23)

crossing the farther shore. Courtesy of Dinh Q. Lê. (Currently on view at the Art Gallery of Mississauga until August 27, 2017).

crossing the farther shore. Courtesy of Dinh Q. Lê. (Currently on view at the Art Gallery of Mississauga until August 27, 2017).

What is family photography? Scholars have often understood the genre as simply snapshots of domestic scenes—images that reflect and produce normative notions of family. Yet, family photographs are more complex than we think: they can also include images taken by a wide spectrum of producers, including the press and the state; they frequently circulate between private and public spheres, linking personal memories with national and even global histories; and, just as importantly, they don’t just illustrate families, but also shape the very idea of family in the contexts of race, gender, and sexuality.

This conference will re-examine the genre and develop new ways of investigating the cultural politics of family photography. This critical task is all the more timely not just because of photography’s transformation with the digital turn, but also because of recent historical shifts that have altered the composition and very meaning of kinship--including Cold War dislocations, the visibility of queer and trans* family belonging, transnational adoptions, and immigration under the auspices of family reunification.




Thursday, Sept. 21, 2017

The afternoon will begin with an Artists’ roundtable moderated by Deepali Dewan at the Royal Ontario Museum, and will be followed by an opening reception & a visit to The Family Camera exhibition

Friday, Sept. 22, 2017

9:05-10:45      Welcome & Introduction

Plenary Session moderated by Elspeth Brown in CCF: Key Concepts Roundtable featuring Gayatri Gopinath (NYU), Marianne Hirsch (Columbia), Martha Langford (Concordia), Laura Wexler (Yale) & Deborah Willis (NYU)

Panel Sessions 1 – 11:00 am to 12:45 pm

Feminizing Emotional Communities // Munk 023N // Chair: Charlene Heath // Discussant: Laura Levin  

  • Sharon Sliwinski (UWO), “Photography—Our Mother Complex”
  • Erina Duganne (Texas State University), “Family Photography and the Global Struggle for Human Rights”
  • Dot Tuer (OCADU), “Talismans and Traces: State Terror, Absent Bodies and Reframing the Family Photograph”

(Post)Colonial Albums // Munk 108 N // Chair: Thierry Gervais // Discussant Kevin Coleman

  • Candice Jansen (Wits Institute) “Complicities of the Image: Cedric Nunn and the Black Family in Struggle”
  • Sandrine Colard-De Bock (Columbia University), “Becoming the Bourgeois African in the colonial Congo: Two Families in the Picture”
  • John Peffer (Ramapo), “When a Photograph is Family: Thoughts on Audience and Image in Africa”

Intimate Economies from analog to digital eras // Munk 208N // Chair: Anne Cibola // Discussant: Marlis Schweitzer

  • Ali Feser (Chicago University), “Photochemical Kinship in the Image Capital of the World”
  • Sarah Brophy (McMaster), “Angus McBean’s Queer Domestic Surrealism and a Prehistory of Selfie Culture”
  • Sophie Hackett (AGO), “Zun Lee’s Fade Resistance”

Panel Sessions 2 – 2:30 pm to 4:30 pm

Secrecy // Munk 023N // Chair: Sara Rozenburg // Discussant: Christina Sharpe  

  • Sara Davidmann (independent artist), “Ken. To be destroyed”  
  • Erin Gray (UCLA), “America’s ‘Concrete Universal’: Excising Lynching from The Family of Man”
  • Andrea Doucet (Brock), "The ethics and aesthetics of remembrance in the aftermath of catastrophe"

Politicizing Family // Munk 108N // Chair: Tanya Sheehan // Discussant: Catherine Zuromskis

  • Drew Thompson (Bard College), “Não há nada (“There is nothing”)”: The Absence of Retratos in Independent Mozambique"
  • Sharon Huebner (Monash University), "Disrupting Colonial Imaginaries: Photographs of Australian Aboriginal ancestors as a cultural device for activating intergenerational pride and kinship responsibility"
  • Kimberly Juanita Brown (Mount Holyoke College), “Next of Kin: Photographic Mortevivum and the Violence of Proximity”
  • Autumn Womack (Princeton University), “What of the Family of the Dead?: The Family Photograph as Lynching Photography”

Extra-familial frames // Munk 208N  // Chair: Jordan Bear // Discussant: Matthew Brower

  • Deborah Weinstein (Brown), “Animals in Family Photographs” 
  • Reilley Bishop-Stall (McGill), "Friction and Familiarity in Family Photo Albums: A Residential School Teacher's Photographic Legacy"
  • Heather Diack (University of Miami), “We Are Family: Leslie Hewitt’s Riff’s On Real Time

4:45-6:00    Plenary Session moderated by Sarah Parsons:

  • Richard Hill (Emily Carr), "Bring the Whole Family: Picturing Indigenous Kinship Networks under Capitalism" 
  • Carol Payne (Carleton), “Photography, Family, and Inuit Culture”

6:30              Wine and Cheese reception

Saturday, September 23, 2017

9:00-10:45   Plenary Session moderated by Elspeth Brown & Deepali Dewan: Collecting and Archiving Family Photographs roundtable featuring Mark Sealy (Autograph ABP, UK), Rahaab Allana (Alkazi Collection, India), Luce Lebart(Canadian Photography Institute), & Fiona Kinsey (Museum Victoria, Australia)

Panel Sessions 311:00 am to 12:45 pm

Masculinities // Munk 023N // Chair: Siobhan Angus // Discussant: Sarah Bassnett

  • Adria Imada (UC Irvine), “Dreaming in Pictures: “Family” Albums and Kinship during Medical Incarceration”
  • Franny Nudelman (Carleton University), “Reframing Postmortem Photography: Tim Hetherington’s ‘Sleeping Soldiers’”
  • Georgiana Banita (Bamberg University), “The Refuge of Photography: Framing Migrant Men”

Visual Diasporas // Munk 108N // Chair: Nicole Fleetwood // Discussant: Richard Fung

  • Leigh Raiford (UC Berkeley), “‘1World1Family’: Collecting the African Diaspora Family Album”
  • Lily Cho (York), “Diaspora in the Darkroom: theorizing chromogenic process and ontologies of diasporic connection”
  • Sabeena Gadihoke, “The Partition in a Digital Age: An Archeology of Family Photographs through Absence and Presence”

Cold War Generations // Munk 208N // Chair: Vinh Nguyen // Discussant: Tong Lam

  • Iyko Day (Mt. Holyoke), “Nuclear Family Photography and Generational Memory”
  • Jung Joon Lee (RISD), “Orphan Nation: Remembering the Korean War as Family-Nation”
  • Olivia Tait (University College, London), "Kustlerehepaar: I.G.G.R."

Panel Session 42:30 pm to 4:15 pm

Futurities // Munk 023N  // Chair: Laura Wexler // Discussant: Yi (Evie) Gu  

  • Jeehey Kim (Carter Museum), “Funerary Portrait Photography and Ghost/Spirit Marriage in East Asia”
  • Afseneh Naimabadi (Harvard), "With a Whole Family -- the Stories One Can Tell"
  • Shawn Michelle Smith (School of the Art Institute of Chicago), “Too Many Men”

Akin: Conventions of Childhood // Munk 108N // Chair: Martha Langford // Discussant: Marianne Hirsch

  • Jennifer Orpana (ROM), “Childhood Snapshots: Transnational Conventions in Family Photography” (
  • Daniel Magilow (UT- Knoxville), “Cute Jews: On Nahum Gidal’s Judische Kinder in Erez Israel Ein Photobuch
  • LiLi Johnson (Yale), “Transnational Chinese Adoptions”

Racialized Citizenship and Non-citizenship // Munk 208N // Chair: Sara Blair // Discussant: Gayatri Gopinath

  • Gabrielle Moser (OCADU), “Familial Ties and Citizen Claims: Photography, Race and Citizenship in African Canadian Newspapers”
  • Julia Lum (Yale), “Narrating Visibility: Chinese Canadian Family Photography and the Exclusion Period, 1923-67”
  • Nadine Attewell (McMaster), “Intimations of Abundance: Working-Class Family Photography and the Look of Mixed Race”

4:30-5:45   Plenary Session moderated by Julie Crooks: Tina Campt (Barnard College) & Nicole Fleetwood (Rutgers) 

Concluding remarks by Thy Phu, Elspeth Brown & Deepali Dewan

7:00            Closing Banquet