CALL FOR CONTRIBUTIONS - July 15, 2012. Family Line-ups. Trans-generational Encounters in Family Photography

full name / name of organization: 
American Studies Program, University of Bucharest


This is a Call for Contributions for an EXHIBITION to be organized in May 2013 by a group of academics in the American Studies Program at the University of Bucharest. An exhibition catalogue will also be published.

The title of this project is FAMILY LINE-UPS. Trans-generational Encounters in Family Photography. The exhibition is part of a wider research project currently examining the role of family photography in the process of the inter-generational transmission of memory, with a focus on the manner in which exile acted on the structure of the family and the coherence of its genealogy.

Your contributions to this exhibition should address one or several of the questions below:

- How do we relate ourselves to a family history that we have inherited through family photographs and storytelling, but which we were for the most part unable to witness?
- How does family photography work to relate us to an unlived family history in the case of various generations of immigrant families having lived through multiple layers of geographic dislocation and relocation to another cultural space (particularly the situation of transatlantic movement from (Eastern) Europe to the United States, as problematized, for example, by Nancy K. Miller)?
- What role does "genealogy" (usually read as "blood ties" but also as "resemblance") play in the way we project ourselves visually and verbally?
- In what way does photography, especially family photography, enable a dialogue with the dead or absent (cf. Roland Barthes, Camera Lucida)?
- How do we negotiate the scarce narrative force of photography against the social imperative that we possess a coherent story about our past, our ancestors etc.?
- How do we reconcile the fact that the conventions of family photography predicate that the family is a coherent, happy unit, but sometimes family narratives contradict this narrative?

YOUR SUBMISSION should be sent to Dr. Mihaela Precup no later than July 15 at, and it should consist of the following:

1. three scanned photographs from your own family album (please make sure you set your scanner to 600dpi, so we can be sure we can see them properly), as follows:
o one photograph of yourself
o (at least) one more of a family member who is absent or otherwise visually unavailable to yourself, but to whom you are connected through "family resemblance"
o one of another family member or of a family member who is (also) absent or otherwise visually unavailable to yourself. (please see sample below)

2. A scanned HANDWRITTEN (but legible) NOTE in English (no more than 400 words) on how you relate yourself to the absent family member, and what role the other person in the line-up plays in this dialogue you are having with the absent person

Nota Bene:
The juxtaposition of the photographs and the text you are submitting should address the QUESTIONS WE ASK about memory, family history, and photography. In other words, we have to reject random juxtapositions of family photographs.

Please see the SAMPLE CONTRIBUTION on our website ( to get a better idea of what we are looking for. Also, please note that YOU DO NOT NEED TO EDIT THE IMAGES and the handwritten text togther as in the sample below; you can simply send them to us as separate attachments, and we can easily do the editing for you. Also, please note that, even though the contributor below decided to submit only passport-type photographs in the line-up below, that does not mean that we only accept passport-type images where the subject looks straight at the camera. As long as you are prepared to address the questions we ask, please feel free to send us photographs where the posture of the subjects is relevant for your story.