I’m very excited about the opening of Chosen Family Portraits in the MOV studio. It may be a small exhibition but its message is powerful. Simply put, this inter-disciplinary project is asking us to re-consider our ideas around “what is a family?”
The project started last year when the Queer Film Festival (QFF) invited Vancouver’s queer and allied community-at-large to model with their chosen family and share their stories. Photographer Sarah Race and radio journalist Sarah Buchannan brilliantly captured the spirit of these families in image and sound through a series of photo portraits and oral histories. A couple of months ago, I met with QFF staff, Amber Dawn and Drew Dennis to discuss ways we could work together. I was immediately seduced by the idea of presenting Chosen Family at the museum.
After a couple of meetings between QFF and MOV staff, we decided to play with the idea of the family photo wall, the archetypical motif of traditional households. We felt that the eclectic assortment of frames would hint at the idea of difference, while painting all 28 in bright pink would suggest the idea of shared experience.
Sneakpeek of Chosen Family Portraits photo credit: Jillian Povarchook
Chosen Family @ MOV feels like the first offspring borne out of our Sex Talk in the City project, a full-scale exhibition that will explore issues of sexual diversity, expression and education as it relates to Vancouver. The show is opening sometime in 2013. We have our eyes set on Valentine’s Day . . . but why commit so early to a date? Seriously, starting to plan an exhibition a year-and-a half before opening to the public may seem like a huge amount of time, but we have a lot of work ahead of us in regards to research, design and fundraising to mention a few. We also want to create plenty of opportunities for Vancouverites to contribute their ideas to the project. I’ve already had an awesome all-day brainstorming session last March with our Advisory Committee and some project allies. Options for Sexual Health, Out-on-Screen, the Vancouver School Board, the Queer Film Festival, 10Four Design, activists, writers, historians, education scholars, performing artists and museum staff identified possible themes, messaging and interpretive strategies. Here are some of the keywords generated by the group when envisioning the exhibition:
light & heavy
slick & raw
youthful & mature
serious & humorous
visceral & intellectual
We now have to give shape to these words. We need a storyline. We need a few “big ideas”- because of course we won’t be able to say everything. We also need more artefacts. Ideas about sexuality are not just in our head, they are represented materially. They morph into places objects and events that surround us: clothes, drug prescriptions, toys, laws, public celebrations like Pride Weekend . . . Sex is everywhere!
I’m looking forward to opening the conversation to a broader community, using Chosen Family Portraits as a springboard for discussion.
Stay tuned on the MOV blog for more updates as the exhibition develops.
Viviane Gosselin is curator of contemporary issues at MOV and project lead for Sex Talk in the City.
Join in the conversation on Twitter: @xtalkinthecity #xtalkMOV