Location: Palazzo Ducale, Cortile degli Svizzeri 1
Opening times: Monday – Thursday 3pm – 7:30pm / Friday – Sunday 10am – 7: 30pm


When we find ourselves in front of a family portrait we recognize it immediately. There is something that recurs frequently: a formal aspect that we interpret as an archetype rooted in our imagination, or perhaps, more poetically, a relational element that spontaneously emerges from the gaze of the subjects portrayed. It is impossible to be wrong.

Yet each historical period has had its own way of photographing the family group. From the privilege of the wealthiest families, in the second half of the nineteenth century the possibility of being immortalized through a photographic lens became accessible to an increasing number of families. With the technological evolution and the lowering of costs, the custom of collecting the most important moments of family life in photo albums has spread and this type of images has also played a fundamental role in correspondence between emigrant families and during two world wars.

Starting after World War II, with the spread of pocket cameras, professional photographers were progressively replaced by family members – often fathers – who recorded domestic life through close, authentic and genuine documentation.

In the artistic field, the photographic genre of the family portrait is perhaps the most immediate, intuitive and practiced. Sometimes even abused. Over time, artists and photographers have explored and re-interpreted the traditional canon of the family portrait, adopting different approaches, from documentary narration to conceptual processing, from the use of archival materials to staged photography. From the seventies onwards, the theme of the family began to occupy an important space also in the exhibition discourse, materializing in exhibitions that have marked a cornerstone of the authorial gaze on the subject, such as Pleasure and terrors of domestic comfort (MoMA, New York, 1991) e Who is looking at the family? (Barbican, Londra, 1994).

In light of these premises, we can say that the family portrait is, perhaps more than other genres, the mirror of the evolution of photographic language, of the way in which our identity is expressed. Ultimately: the way we think about ourselves.

According to the sociologist Pierre Bourdieu, “the practice of photography exists and subsists by virtue of its family function, or rather the function that the family group confers on it, in short, consolidating the integration of the group by reaffirming the feeling that it has of itself and of your unit. ” Faced with these words, the question arises: what role does photography play in the identity definition of the family?

In the works presented in this collective, the photographic portrait, from a difficult “customizable” scheme-archetype, becomes a language to be explored in search of new rules, raw material to work with, a visual code on which to intervene deliberately, in order to identify a new form with which to tell the family dynamics. A form that returns the complexity of a term used to express a system of relationships with multiple declinations, not always clearly definable and easy to represent: the works of established authors meet those of young photographers, composing a diversified mosaic that returns a new way to understand and imagine the family portrait: from autobiographical stories – which involve the use of archival material, as well as elaborate staging in front of the lens – to the exploration of social themes, Say Cheese! A new family portrait wants to be a stimulus to reconsider the parameters – visual and not only – that define contemporary family identity.

Alba Zari, The Y
Annie Hsiao-Ching Wang, The Mother as a Creator
Archivio Diaristico Nazionale / Piccolo Museo del Diario
Awkward Family Photos
Bryan Thomas, Sunrise/Sunset
Dario Mitidieri, Lost family’s portraits
Diana Markosian, Santa Barbara
Eleonora Agostini, A blurry aftertaste
Home Movies / Archivio Nazionale dei Film di Famiglia
Gillian Laub,Family Matters
Ismail Zaidy, “family العائلة”
Leonard Suryajaya, False Idol
Loulou D’Aki, Mother of Choice
Masahisa Fukase, Family
Moira Ricci, 20.12.53 – 10.08.04
Oksana Yushko, Familia
Priya Kambli Suresh, Kitchen Gods
Rinko Kawauchi, Cui Cui
Sage Sohier, At Home with Themselves: Same-Sex Couples in 1980s America
Sara Perovic, My father’s legs
Simon Lehner, The mind is a voice, the voice is blind
Sunil Gupta, “Pretended” Family Relationships
Thomas Mailaender, Parental Advisory
Tom Licht+Djamila Grossman, Be Hers Be Mine
Trish Morrissey, Front
Verena Jaekel, Familienvater