Gillian Laub, Grandpa helping Grandma out, 1999. © Gillian Laub

CJM Presents “Gillian Laub: Family Matters”

Beginning October 13, The Contemporary Jewish Museum (The CJM) will present Gillian Laub: Family Matters, a solo exhibition that presents the saga of an American family.

Through a series of more than 60 photographs and an accompanying audio guide that are at times hopeful, anguished, intimate, and funny, the exhibition captures photographer Gillian Laub’s documentation of the emotional, psychological, and political landscape of her family.

Family Matters, which originated at the International Center of Photography (ICP) in New York, explores the way in which intense intergenerational bonds have shaped and nurtured Laub, but have also been fraught. Through this body of work Laub turns both a loving and critical lens on her growing discomfort with the many beliefs and extravagances that marked her family’s lives. Curated by David Campany, ICP’s Curator-at-Large and Sara Ickow ICP’s Senior Manager of Exhibitions and Collections, and organized at The CJM by Heidi Rabben, Senior Curator, the exhibition will be on view through April 9, 2023.

For the last two decades, Gillian Laub’s photography has delved into topical complexity with a careful focus on community and human rights. Her work has included subjects ranging from terror survivors in the Middle East (Testimony, 2007) to racism in the American South (Southern Rites, 2015).

Throughout her work she has used her camera to investigate how society’s most complex questions are often writ large in our most intimate relationships and spaces. With this exhibition she presents a series of photographs that she has been working on simultaneously for nearly 25 years, turning an eye to her own intimate relationships by documenting the emotional, psychological, and political landscape of her family. The original presentation of the exhibition coincides with the publication of a companion book by Aperture, Family Matters (2021). Much of the book’s text informed the immersive audio guide that accompanies the exhibition experience.

The exhibition is organized into four acts, with photographs dating from 1999–2020 that document Laub’s growing and changing relationship with her family.

As the exhibition progresses, the images begin to reflect the unfolding of a deeply conflicted and polarized nation, as the artist and her parents find themselves on opposing sides of a sharp political divide—tearing at multigenerational family ties, and forcing everyone to ask what, in the end, really binds them together.