Family Matters – Opening in Florence at Strozzina Centre for Contemporary Culture. Is the contemporary family a sanctuary or a nightmare?

FAMILY MATTERS Portraits and experiences of family today ¦ opened on March 14th at the Strozzina Centre for Contemporary Culture in Florence.

The Falletti family Florence 2005 Photo Courtesy Thomas Struth

The Falletti family Florence 2005 Photo Courtesy Thomas Struth

The Strozzina Centre, as part of the major exhibition centre Strozzi Palace, is the only surviving publicly funded centre for the production and exhibition of contemporary art in town.

The show, featuring the works of eleven international artists (Guy Ben-Ner, Sophie Calle, Jim Campbell, John Clang, Nan Goldin, Courtney Kessel, Ottonella Mocellin and Nicola Pellegrini, Trish Morrissey, Hans Op de Beeck, Chrischa Oswald, Thomas Struth), explores the dynamics and structures defining the concept of family in the contemporary world.

The German photographer Thomas Struth, one of the most widely exhibited and collected artist in Europe, opens the display with his large-scale portraits of families nodding to Renaissance paintings.

While in his celebrated Museum series he depicts the spectrum of the human behaviours of gallery goers – ranging from pure contemplation to idle cruising through masterpieces -, his portraits of families from around the world reveal the artist’s early painting studies at the Düsseldorf academy under the German artist Gerhard Richter.

Pantheon Thomas Struth

Pantheon Thomas Struth

In her projects the French conceptual photographer Sophie Calle questions issues of voyeurism, intimacy and identity. She often investigates the role of the spectator, making the viewer sometimes feel a sense of uneasiness and violation of privacy.

Sophie Calle Les Tombes Photo courtesy Strozzina Centre

Sophie Calle Les Tombes Photo courtesy Strozzina Centre

Different narratives and representations of family relationships intertwine throughout the show: in Calle’s triptych Les Tombes the three images serve as an abstract family portrait, while in Op de Beeck’s video The Stewarts have a party the ghostly appearances of this imaginary family are directed in a suspended and de-materialised mise-en-scene. Guy Ben-Ner‘s Soundtrack challenges the cliché of the family as a safe nest, using irony and a technical artifice: the superposition of the images of his neurotic family life and the soundtrack from Steven Spielberg’s film, War of the Worlds. The consistency with the apocalyptical movie dialogue make the action in the video more and more frantic and catastrophic, instigating the question as to whether the real danger is inside the family, rather than outside in the hypothetical threat of a terrorist attack.

Photo courtesy Op de Beeck

Photo courtesy Op de Beeck

Are contemporary families a fortress against hardship and adversity or are they rather a hotbed of unresolved conflicts and nonsense?

FAMILY MATTERS Portraits and experiences of family today      14 March-20 July 2014

Centre for Contemporary Culture Strozzina – Palazzo Strozzi, Piazza Strozzi Florence

Tuesday to Sunday, 10am-8pm; Thursdays, 10am-11pm; Closed on Mondays

See more at: http://http://www.strozzina.org/en/exhibitions/questioni-di-famiglia/

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