WAG Photography Exhibition Explores the Family

What constitutes a family? Two same-sex parents and 2.5 children? A blended family of stepparents and half-siblings? A tight group of friends? All in the Family, which opened at the Winnipeg Art Gallery on December 1, redefines the modern family. 

While the nuclear family fantasy may remain, the reality is disconnected from it. Kinship, shared experiences, care, and a feeling of belonging have come to overlook the requirement of blood relations. An alternative family network emerges through friendships, or in spaces where individuals share an intense proximity. Families no longer look like their glossy representations in visual culture.

“Our understanding of the family unit is often deeply rooted within our personal, political, and cultural backgrounds,” says Curatorial Assistant Ali King who curated the show, drawing from the WAG’s permanent collection. “Families often share similar characteristics, but no two are the same. Intertwining traditions, places, roles, relationships, generations, and hierarchies, notions of the family abound. Indeed, it is a social construct; perpetuating but never fully realizing its own ideological fantasy.”

All in the Family considers how photographers in the Winnipeg Art Gallery’s collection approach this social group. United by their interest in the human connection, the artists reflect on and often use the familial sphere as a springboard to examine other concerns. In doing so, they reveal images that construct, reinforce and also confront family ideologies, but cannot represent or define them. They invite our curiosity and toy with our own expectations, as viewers of images, gallery visitors, and family members. By reframing the family and the family album’s nostalgic half-truths, they remind us of photography’s own fallacies and fictions.

All in the Family is part of the Collection on View, an ongoing series of exhibitions featuring works from the WAG’s 26,000-piece permanent collection.

The Winnipeg Art Gallery is grateful for the support of the following Centennial sponsors: BMO Financial Group, The Winnipeg Foundation, the Department of Canadian Heritage, TD Bank, James Richardson & Sons Ltd., MTS Allstream, Johnston Group, Air Canada, RBC Royal Bank, PACART, Great-West Life, Friesens, Manitoba Culture Heritage and Tourism, City of Winnipeg, Investors Group, Scotiabank, Volunteer Associates of the Winnipeg Art Gallery, Storm Bistro, Manitoba Lotteries Corporation, Ernst & Young, Fort Garry Hotel, KPMG, Lawton Partners, Loewen, Parrish & Heinbecker, Aikins Law, AON, Cambrian Credit Union, Manitoba Blue Cross, National Leasing, CP Loewen, North West Company, NRG Management. Media sponsors: Winnipeg Free Press, CTV, CBC, Pattison Outdoor Advertising, 103.1 Virgin Radio, 99.9 BOB FM, Doowah Design, Visual Lizard, Esdale Printing, Radio-Canada, Travel Manitoba, Tourism Winnipeg, Midcan Production Technologies. 

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The Winnipeg Art Gallery is celebrating its Centennial year with an unparalleled series of exhibitions, programs, and events promoting the power of art in life. As Manitoba's leading art museum, the WAG is home to over 26,000 works of art spanning ten centuries, including the world's preeminent collection of contemporary Inuit art.

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