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CURRENT COLUMN

The Case of Dubious Due Diligence

The Case of Dubious Due Diligence

The Case of the Olympic Posters
The Case of the Olympic Posters

The Case of the Solitary Surrealist
The Case of the Solitary Surrealist

The Case of the Recalcitrant Rembrandt
The Case of the Recalcitrant Rembrandt

The Case of the Ambiguity of Authenticity
The Case of the Ambiguity of Authenticity

The Case of Margaret Keane’s Big-Eyed Boys
The Case of Margaret Keane’s Big-Eyed Boys

The Case of Clarence’s Château-Gaillard
The Case of Clarence’s Château-Gaillard

The Case of the M.S. Nov 1910
The Case of the M.S. Nov 1910

The Case of Cruise Ship Art: Part 2
The Case of the Archangel Michael Defeating Satan

The Case of Cruise Ship Art: Part 2
The Case of Cruise Ship Art: Part 2

The Case of Mary Most Holy Mother of Light
The Case of Mary Most Holy Mother of Light

The Case of Leni and the Nuba
The Case of Leni and the Nuba

The Case of the Seductive Souvenir
The Case of the Seductive Souvenir

The Case of the Irish Surrealist
The Case of the Irish Surrealist

The Case of the Developing Dalí
The Case of the Developing Dalí

The Case of Nano-D Technology
The Case of Nano-D Technology

The Case of Dabatable Donations
The Case of Debatable Donations

Edgar Heap of Birds
The Case of the Long-tailed Monkey

Edgar Heap of Birds
The Case of Edgar Heap of Birds

Silent Song
The Case of the Silent Song

Aficionado
The Case of Alex and the Art Aficionado

Portrait
The Case of the Privacy of the Publicity Photo

Potter
The Case of the Potter's Portraits

The Case of the Coy Cornelius Krieghoff

The Case of the Political Portraitist

The Case of the Reconsidered Revolution

The Case of the Anabiotic Abbey

The Case of the Phoney Picasso

The Case of Setsuko Piroche

The Case of being on the Forest Edge with Vern Simpson

The Case of Being at the End of the Storm with Loren Adams

The Case of Being: Under the Table with Thomas

The Case of Wyland's Whales on Walls

The Case of A.Y. Jackson's Smart River (Alaska)

The Case of Red Fish with Blue Breasts

The Case of Looe Poole

The Case of Camaldoli

The Case of MS

The Case of the Misattributed Emily Carrs

The Case of the Doubtful Dürer

The Case of the Purloined Picasso

The Case of the Defrocked Duchess of Devonshire

The Case of the First Wife

The Case of the Dodford Priory

The Case of the Unknown Actor

Art Services & Materials


Confessions Back

Practical Art History
(or Confessions of a Fine Art Appraiser)

by Jim Finlay
Finlay Fine Art Wealth Management
jim_finlay@telus.net

Chapter 24. The Case of the Privacy of the Publicity Photo

The Jenkins family

The Jenkins family

The Jenkins Family

The terms "privacy" and "publicity" when used in reference to a family photograph may provoke a disconnect of our accepted understanding of what a family photograph might be.

We usually regard family photographs as personal images of family members taken to record the experiences of family life not for public viewing.

The family photograph can be an object for contemplation, usually by those who are in the image or who have some relationship with others in the image. It often forms the basis for a private narrative to be shared with others privileged to be involved in the personal lives and experiences of those depicted. It is a remembrance of those who, since the photograph was taken, have grown older, married into other families or who have died. The image thus evokes a sense of death and rebirth. It is a momento mori, a personal memory shrine.

The inherent privacy of a family photograph ends when the people who have a relationship with those depicted in the photograph no longer have access to that visual archive. The family photograph over time, changes into an historical artifact and often enters the realm of the public archive, where it can be inspected and examined by others with no emotional connection to the photograph. Large collections of family photographs now exist in museum collections, one of the most famous being the McCord Museum of Canadian History in Montreal.

At first glance the image reproduced here would appear to be a representation of the quintessential family unit, however it is not. The image is a fiction. It is a large colour photograph of some cast members of the 1993 made-for-TV movie entitled No Child of Mine. The image is of the Jenkins family who unfortunately struggle with Down’s syndrome. The photograph of what appears to be a typical family was made to publicize the movie and its format was intended to elicit an emotional response to an atypical family photograph while alluding to the movie's plot. The participants in this fiction are from left to right standing: Bart Anderson, who now teaches at the Vancouver Film School (as Rick Jenkins), Megan Leitch (as Robin Jenkins), Tracy Nelson, Rick Nelson’s daughter (as Tammy) and sitting left to right: Patty Duke (as Lucille Jenkins), Lachlan Murdoch (as Danny) and G.W. Bailey (as Lamar Jenkins).

Thus the ‘family photograph’ can also be a fictional image fabricated specifically for public consumption. The viewer as vicarious voyeur is permitted a glimpse into the intimate lives of others, in the case of a publicity photograph with the intent of creating a quasi-emotional connection, in exchange for inclusion as a proxy family member.

But what is the difference between the image of a fictional and non-fictional family? Both are mediated compositions for the benefit of a stakeholder group whether they are friends and family members or a TV-watching public. Both are contrived for a purpose to elicit similar emotional responses in the viewer to create a sense of community, loyalty and identity.

Perhaps both types of images are fictions.

Next: The Case of Alex and an Art Aficionado

 Fri, Nov 5, 2010