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The Family Album

Digital Photography



The Family album as we know it is traditionally dictated by repetition and situational events. We aim to make everything different so that a progression is seen, however, the things that we really look for, whilst looking at our photo album is sameness and familiarity; unconsciously, whilst placing the photograph in the album, producing patterns of family history. We look for those things that are part of our family! Do we have the same eyes, the same mouth? Do we have the same taste in clothes, music or things? Did I look like my mum when she was my age? And yet, those things that we look for in the photographs are never placed in the album intentionally. Yet they are so important in understanding who we are and how family ties are made.

The history of the family album, originates in the late 19th century and was introduced by Francis Galton as the ‘baby album’. Here instructions were given for ones parents to photograph and make notes about the child's development (not just pictorial) over the years. It is here that heredity could be observed. Galton's reason for such formalities were partly due to his theory of Eugenics. In eugenics the family became central to the discursive production of race and of racial hierarchies, as the family album became one of the white ritualised social institutions through which heredity was charted.

The album stood for cultural contestation, however, used as a different tool, I aim to dismantling the stereotypes by projecting alternative inclusions of Black bodies and thus Black memory and history.


©Marcia Michael, Visual Artist, London

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