What happens to family photographs when the original owners lose them and once-private images come into public circulation? What shifts occur in what they represent - both as objects and as vehicles for meaning? Can our engagement with found family images speak beyond nostalgia and loss to embodied ways of caring, identity and belonging?
Since 2012, Dr. Zun Lee has collected over 3,500 orphaned Polaroids depicting every facet of Black family life from the 1970s to the early 2000s. Dubbed Fade Resistance, Lee and Wedge Curatorial Projects introduced the collection to the public with an exhibition at the Gladstone in 2016. The collection has continued to evolve into a transmedia archive, expanding the narrative impact of the photographs to incorporate spoken word, texts, and collaborative performance events. In 2018, the AGO acquired a significant portion of Fade Resistance, bringing the conversation back to Toronto at a critical time.
Join physician, visual artist and educator Zun Lee, as he illuminates how Black communities codified their own lives to generate specific meaning, and how recent social justice movements and social media phenomena may help decode that meaning.
Lee argues for a recontextualization of the ways we look at found photographs beyond static sites of past memory and nostalgia. Using Fade Resistance, he invites us regard found photographs as relational prompts, and collective memory as a dynamic and social process that actively influences contemporary Black (self-) representation and identity formation.
Audience members are encouraged to bring or email 1-3 of their own family photographs participate in shared and open conversation regarding the role of family photographs as evidence of personal and collective history but also as something beyond: what it means to care.
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org / 416 979 3941 x2 to register for this workshop. To eliminate financial barriers, we are offering the workshop on a sliding scale of $10-$50. Given the nature of the workshop, we are encouraging BIPOC students, emerging artists & researchers to attend with priority given to those identifying within these categories due to the limited space available.
Dr. Zun Lee is an award-winning Black Canadian visual artist, physician and educator. He was the 2019 Andrew W. Mellon Practitioner in Residence at Davidson College, a 2018 Knight Foundation Grantee, 2017 Art Gallery of Ontario Artist in Residence, and a 2015 Magnum Foundation Fellow.
Dr. Lee’s practice of documenting Black family life encourages alternate ways of thinking about community and belonging. His explorations focus on how communities codify identity and self-representation, but also how the meaning of such code may shift as images circulate in the realm of cultural commodification and appropriation.
Lee’s projects have been published and exhibited widely and his works are held in numerous public and private collections. He has taught and spoken at many institutions including Portland Art Museum, The New School, University of Chicago, University of Toronto, Annenberg Space for Photography, International Center of Photography, UNC Chapel Hill, NYU, Columbia University, and Duke University.