The Family Camera - May to Oct., 2017

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

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One exhibition

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. Tucked away in a box, framed on the wall, or saved to the cloud, personal photos are all around us in abundance. For Canadians, family photographs are often linked to stories of migration. Whether recent or in the distant past, over short or long distances, international or even within Canada, photographs play an important role in these experiences. From departures and arrivals to everyday moments and milestones, they capture these journeys and keep us connected; even the family photos that are lost or destroyed along the way can still linger in our imaginations.

Exploring the relationship between photography and the idea of family, The Family Camera looks at family photographs as a cultural practice through the lens of migration. It considers the social, political, and technological influences that impact how we conceptualize and represent family. Cultural shifts, such as same sex marriage and transnational adoptions enhance our notion of family, while the arrival of Polaroid cameras, smart phones, and the digital age have transformed the moments we capture and how we share them. With nearly every photograph featured in this exhibition coming from a Canadian home, The Family Camera sheds light on how family photos reflect and shape our sense of self, family, community, and nation.

Discover the connections between family, photography, and migration and bring your idea of family into focus.

Two venues

The Family Camera is presented in partnership with the Art Gallery of Mississauga (AGM), with works on display at both venues. 

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

*The Family Camera at the ROM includes a video installation by Deanna Bowen that is approximately 40 minutes in duration. We encourage you to allow yourself a little extra time during your visit to experience this piece in its entirety.

#ROMFamCam Blogs

Over the course of the exhibition, we will be posting blogs with more information about the exhibition. Please click on the titles below to access blog content.

1. Collaboration, Family and Photography: The Process of Creating an Installation for The Family Camera Exhibition

2. The Living Room: Photography in the Public and Private

3. The Living Room: Creative Team & List of Works Cited

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. Curated by Deepali Dewan, Jennifer Orpana, Thy Phu, Julie Crooks, and Sarah Bassnett, with the assistance of Sarah Parsons and Silvia Forni. Special Thanks to: Toronto Photography Seminar, Digital Futures Graduate Program at OCAD University, Art Gallery of Mississauga, Ryerson University’s Photography + Film Preservation and Collections Management Graduate Program, Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives, and Western University. The Family Camera features over 200 objects, mostly photographs and stories collected through The Family Camera Network, a public archive project that collects family photographs and their stories and preserves them for future generations. It also includes loans from private and public collections, and new works by artists Jeff Thomas, Deanna Bowen, and Dinh Q. Lê. An immersive installation exploring the living room space where family photos live and the stories they tell has been created by OCAD University’s Digital Futures program.