The visual representation of the family is a concept that we are all familiar with either as the observer or the subject. As you rummage through old family albums, infantile drawings or virtual albums online, it becomes apparent that the compulsion to document one’s own family is instilled in us at the very beginning of our lives, usually as the subject being documented. In this way, we begin our own families and friendships, and contribute to and continue this tradition. The artists in Family Ties have chosen the family portrait as the starting point for creating new works that challenge our physical, emotional and conceptual perception of how families and single family members are represented.
Each work in the exhibition subtly emits the internal tension one encounters as we come of age – the desire to break free from our families, but at the same time remain tied to them, as our familial relationships undeniably influence the way we see ourselves.
Iris Haussler’s work consists of drawings traced from family photographs collected in flea markets. These works subtlety lend themselves to Haussler’s own personal story, but by only tracing the silhouettes of other families, and creating fictional narratives, Haussler is able to create a distance between herself and the work, allowing a stream of mysterious histories and identities emerge.
The series Album is a collaborative drawing project of forty plus works of Toronto-based artists Chris Ironside and Christy Thompson. Based on a typical family photo-wall commonly seen in residential settings, this installation merges the works of both artists. Instead of a grid or linear format, the works are installed more organically, establishing a sort of family tree that directs the viewer’s eye. However, upon closer inspection the “family” members do not have a logical nor familial correlation and instead the viewer is called upon to create their own links between the cast of characters. Both artists are interested in the daily practice of drawing and how the hand is evidenced through the medium. The series of portraits give reference to their original photographic sources but through the act of drawing imbue aspects of imperfection, temporality and perceived emotion.
Twins on Twins is an ongoing series of quick gestures made onto found imageries of identical twins. Through these interventions led by subconscious action, Hanna Hur explores the complexities of her own identity as a twin. The use of monoprint as background extends implications of duality, while varied compositions reflect the temporal, ever-shifting nature of identity formation in psychological space.
Douglas Coupland’s works Family Portraits are found photographs of 1980’s family studio shots where he has digitally removed the faces of each member, only leaving the traces of a void like space. Prompted by the idea of looking back at visual representations of oneself and others, Coupland investigates not the physical changes over time, but the importance of how the personal aura can shift or remain the same, and whether or not this aura can be represented and examined through documentation. These works are a continuation of his 2012 Nuit Blanche project “ Museum of the Rapture”, where Coupland staged installations of various people’s belongings which stood in for a person who had been lost in the rapture.
Molly to Molly by Michael Klein consists of lenticular photographs of four generations of women from the same family. Each of the first three photographs contains images of a mother and her daughter, Molly & Sharon, Sharon & Lainie, Lainie & Molly. The last photograph contains images of the youngest member of the family and the great grandmother for whom she is named. This illustration simulates the experience of the images transforming as the viewer changes viewing angle.