Synopses & Reviews
Contemporary artists, writers, and theorists challenge standard interpretations of family photographs.
Since the introduction of the "Kodak" in 1888, the family photograph has provided the family with its primary means of self-knowledge and continuity. Yet family pictures tend to follow rigid conventions which support dominant familial myths and ideologies, representing the family quite uniformly as happy, stable, and unchanging. In The Familial Gaze, 22 experts -- photographers, artists, curators, writers, literary theorists, and historians -- scrutinize family photographs to reveal their power to shape our personal memories and self-conceptions. But in the images they create and discuss, these artist and writers also find an often surprising and imaginative resistance to social and aesthetic conventions. They thus expose the contradictory cultural impact of private images. This startlingly original book reveals family photography to be a truly compelling and new field of inquiry.
Since the introduction of the Kodak in 1888, the family photograph has become the family's primary instrument of self-knowledge and representation-the means by which family memory is continued and perpetuated. Such pictures tend to follow rigid conventions which seem to consolidate and perpetuate dominant familial myths and ideologies, supporting a self-representation of the family as stable and happy, static and monolithic. InThe Familial Gaze, 22 experts-some themselves photographers, while others are writers, critics, theorists and filmmakers-scrutinize family photographs to reveal their power to shape our personal memories and self-conceptions, and expose the cultural impact of private images. But these writers also show the often surprising and imaginative resistance of such photographs to social and aesthetic conventions. This startlingly original book reveals family photography to be a truly compelling and new field of inquiry. The result is a pathbreaking exploration of the centrality of the photographic image in contemporary visual aesthetics, and an analysis that will now stand at the forefront of contemporary cultural theory.
CONTRIBUTORS: Elizabeth Abel, Mieke Bal, Dick Blau, Ann Burlein, Albert Chong, Jane Gallop, Anne Higonnet, Marianne Hirsch, Annette Kuhn, Joanne Leonard, Andrea Liss, Deborah McDowell, Nancy Miller, Lorie Novak, Valerie Smith, Art Spiegelman, Leo Spitzer, Marita Sturken, Larry Sultan, Ernst van Alphen, Laura Wexler, Deborah Willis