Family Photographic Funds in Biblioteca Panizzi
curated by Laura Gasparini, Monica Leoni and Elisabeth Sciarretta
The exhibition aims to revisit with a close and attentive eye the photographic funds of the families of Reggio Emilia. These contain precious documentation of everyday life and key events which provide the viewer with an unofficial gaze that is sometimes intimate and sometimes humorous.
Alongside professional portraits produced for significant events in family life (Christenings, confirmations, weddings, etc.) the exhibition explores the numerous images shot by amateurs, often by the subjects portrayed.
The method of analysis is both synchronic and diachronic. At times, it may be more or less evident how the lives of the families have been affected by history’s great events, such as the two world wars, the waves of immigration which deprived the family nucleus of its male figure and other key episodes which marked the life of the communities of Reggio Emilia in the 1900s.
One of the exhibition’s subjects is the types of representation which were not only characteristic of the language of photography at the time, initially adopted only by the wealthier classes, but also of the transformations and history of the family unit itself.
The exhibition documents the large families that characterised the aristocratic and fascist periods, as well as the families of evacuees during World War II. These photographic memories are rare and precious, albeit of low technical quality at times, although this is of secondary importance since they document personal histories and family relationships.
The exhibition’s itinerary explores the private photographic archives of well-known characters in Reggio Emilia, portraying their personal experience, in the belief that this reading contributes to a deeper psychological and social understanding of the figures analysed.
The exhibition contains daguerreotypes, tintypes and albumen prints from family collections passed down from generation to generation, and assembled with care and attention by the owners themselves. In addition, it features reprints from the original negatives of the photographers who worked for, and with, the families.