Jerwood Encounters: Family Politics Curated by Photoworks

A Jerwood Encounters exhibition, curated by Photoworks will show at Jerwood Space, November - December 2013, launching alongside the first Photoworks Annual.

This exhibition presents new commissions and existing work by early career photographers relating to ‘Family Politics’ – the curatorial theme of the first issue of Photoworks Annual. Exhibiting artists include invited artists Claudia Sola and The Photocopy Club; and artists selected from an open call, Jonny Briggs, Robert Crosse, Nikolai Ishchuk and Joanna Piotrowska. The exhibition explores the different ways in which artists consider and use photographic practice, resulting in an expanded view of the medium.

Jerwood Encounters: Family Politics exhibition installation view, 2013. Photo:


Jonny Briggs’ practice centres on the exploration of memories and experiences he had as a child, with a focus on recreating lost parts of his childhood. Many of Briggs’ works centre on his close relationship with his parents and the locality of his family home. Complex readings and understanding of family are explored; spirituality, ritualistic behaviour, the self in relation to nature and culture, animal behaviour and the self’s relationship to environment.

For the Family Politics exhibition Briggs is exhibiting two new series of work for the first time. The Tapestry series incorporate images of his family photographs alongside new photographs revealing a montage of past and present imagery. The characters in the images are of a similar colour palette, and often merge with their surroundings. The Close to home series series are digitally altered photographs of the artist’s own family photographs where roles, relationships and situations are transformed. The images bring together group behaviours and rituals similarly found in tribal group behaviour, religion and the supernatural.

Robert Crosse’s work addresses the hierarchy of power and control within the family structure, focussing specifically on how roles that are adopted within families inform and influence relationships in later life. The understanding of family roles and how these can change through time can be led by the memories created by the staged family photograph. It is this staging that forms the basis for a new series of works titled Family Values. These humorous staging’s include Crosse’s own family as the subject and are filmed within public and private places ranging from a local restaurant, to the interior of a car and within his parents’ own home. The family pose for a number of minutes as if waiting for the camera to capture them in a still frame. This posed performance reveals a personal narrative played out to the camera giving access to the particular relationships and associated authorities of Crosse and his family.

Nikolai Ishchuk presents images from the series Offset. They are based on found pictures of a family that have been re-photographed or otherwise copied, and then reworked. These images originate from a family photo album found by the artist in Moscow. One half of the series consists of pictures that, at first glance, look like poorly framed snaps. However on closer inspection it becomes clear that they are somehow off: positioning of the subjects seems more than just an error in composition, and some body parts extend into and from the other side of the image. Derived from a different subset of images, the other half of the series is made of black cut outs of the negative space of the images, rendered in household gloss. The emotional distance thus becomes discernible with the disorientating forms resembling crumbling pillars and representing the various misconfigurations of close relationships.

Joanna Piotrowska is interested in psychotherapies within the family structure particularly focussing on the inequalities of power between individuals. She draws comparisons between being a part of a family and being part of a wider political, economic, social or cultural system where power and hierarchy dominate and where the effect of this hierarchy can be both beneficial and oppressive. For the Family Politics exhibition Piotrowska presents photographs from the series Frowst. The subjects within each scene interact awkwardly together conveying a sense of anxiety or helplessness. There is also a sense of comfort and control between the subjects and conventional roles appear reversed. This positioning is a key way for the artist to expresses the sense of entanglement in relationships which in turn influence fear, need and desire.

Claudia Sola presents Being there, a film of images taken from her own personal collection, from those given to her by others and found images from the internet. The film starts with a photograph of the artist’s grandparents shortly after they were married, then continues with a display of images of wedding pictures taken by Sola during her time as a wedding photographer in Amsterdam. Microscopic photographs of diseases are specific to those people that Sola knows and a series of photographs of rainbows originate from when Sola bought her first camera from a thrift store. Since then her collection of rainbows and other subjects has grown over time. Many of the photographs are included in this work. The images are edited together to produce a rapid journey through marriage, life, illness and death; a personal view of the world spliced together to produce microcosms of stories with universal understanding.

The Photocopy Club works collaboratively with galleries and individuals by initiating open submission opportunities based around a particular thematic. Their interest lies in transferring digital photographs from the Internet and repositioning them as physical printed matter within a gallery. For the Family Politics exhibition The Photocopy Club were invited to coordinate an open submission opportunity around the theme of the exhibition, with a particular focus on the family and social media. Social media reveals the lives of family and friends on a grand scale: our home life, holidays, weddings, deaths and births. Everything that was private about the family is now often played out online for all to look in on. Photographers were invited to share their own documentation of family life within this context. Photocopies are signed and dated on the back and for sale priced at £5 each.

Family Politics features a variety of approaches to photography with each work drawing on photographic language as a reference point.

As a subject, the family is both private and public: the site of intimate inter-personal relations and a social construct subject to public and political pressures. This relationship is mirrored in examples of family photography. The majority of family pictures serve essentially private functions, accruing meaning through their relationship to the memories, experiences and histories of individuals. However, the family is also the subject of public photographic representation and contestation. This involves a wide variety of practices including representations in the mass media, art, advertising and pictures circulating on social networking sites.

Photoworks Annual explores the Family Politics theme further with commissioned work from Jowhara AlSaud and Claudia Sola, Folios by Broomberg & Chanarin, David Moore and John Clang; conversations between: Marianne Hirsch and Lorie Novak, Wendy Ewald and Anthony Luvera,  Bettina von Zwehl and Kelley Wilder and writings from Michael Bonesteel, Susan Bright, Terry Dennett, Geoffrey Batchen, Blake Stimson, Sarah James, Stephanie Schwartz, and Jack Halberstam, Aaron Schuman, Blake Morrison, Andrew Kötting, Sue Hubbard and David Campany amongst others.

Shonagh Manson, Director of Jerwood Visual Arts, says

Working in partnership with critically engaged organisations is an important tenet of our vision to both offer and broker opportunities for artists. We are delighted to be working with Photoworks on Family Politics, jointly extending the commissioning spaces of the gallery and Photoworks Annual together.

Director of Photoworks, Celia Davies adds,

Our partnership with Jerwood Visual Arts further signals Photoworks’ commitment to promoting engagement with photography’s place in a wider contemporary culture and new sites for dissemination. Choosing a theme such as “Family Politics” allows us to explore how photography deepens our understanding of the subject and also how the subject can shed light on the roles photography performs.

Jerwood Encounters: Family Politics exhibition installation view, 2013. Photo:

Photoworks Annual (£20) is available in galleries and independent bookshops worldwide and direct from the Photoworks website.

Buy Photoworks Annual

Jerwood Visual Arts and Photoworks will present a series of evening events to accompany the exhibition.

Events are free but must be booked in advance, for more information please check the Jerwood Visual Arts website:

Jerwood Encounters: Family Politics
Curated by Photoworks
6 November – 8 December 2013

Address: Jerwood Space, 171 Union St, London SE1 0LN
Opening Times: Mon-Fri 10am–5pm, Sat 10am–3pm, Sun 10am–5pm
Admission: Free
Nearest tube: Southwark, London Bridge or Borough