Royal Ontario Museum to Open GENERATIONS Photography Exhibit, 5/2

Royal Ontario Museum to Open GENERATIONS Photography Exhibit, 5/2

(Toronto, Ontario - April 22, 2015) - The Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) hosts Generations: Annu Palakunnathu Matthew from Saturday, May 2 to Sunday, October 18, 2015 in Level 3, Centre Block. Co-presented as a Primary Exhibition in the 2015 Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival, Generations features six bodies of work created by contemporary artist Annu Palakunnathu Matthew between 1996 and 2015. A striking blend of still and moving imagery, the photo-based exhibition explores the powerful appeal of family photographs and how they shape identity and memory.

Matthew uses the family photograph as a source of inspiration to examine concepts of memory, cultural assumptions, and dynamics of national identity. Curated by Dr. Deepali Dewan, ROM Senior Curator of South Asian Arts & Culture, Generations takes a creative approach to photography as a medium. The exhibition title plays with the dual concept of multiple generations within a family and photographic print. Presenting familiar imagery to draw in the viewer, Matthew uses the medium of photography to challenge the distance between past and present and the separation between fact and fabricated history.

"The family photograph is the most familiar, ubiquitous and numerous of any genre of photography and yet, despite its popularity, remains notably absent from photo histories," says Dr. Deepali Dewan, "In much of her work, Matthew brings focus on the family photograph, exploring its psychological and emotional dimensions to subvert cultural expectations.

Drawing from her experience of living between three cultural identities, Matthew uses the family photograph as a departure point to confront her audience with thought-provoking questions of collective memory and social transformation. Born in England, raised in India, and now based in the United States as a Professor of Art (Photography) at the University of Rhode Island, Matthew uses intimate materials from her own family photographs, Polaroid technology, photo animation, and iPads to create a multi-sensory experience. The bodies of work presented in Generations take viewers on an emotional journey, addressing such wide ranging issues as the preservation of histories, the silences in family photos, and the blurring of memories.


To complement the exhibition, ROM Contemporary Culture will host engaging talks and events that consider themes such as: What are family photographs? How do they shape our memories and identities?

ROM Big Weekend: Global Family
May 23 | 1:00pm
Annu Palakunnathu Matthew will be at the ROM photographing families for possible inclusion in her current project. Participating families will receive a free print and digital file. Event is free with ROM admission.

ROMSpeaks Artist Talk
May 26 | 6:00pm
The ROM hosts a free Generations reception followed by a ticketed talk moderated by Dr. Deepali Dewan. Panelists include artist Annu Palakunnathu Matthew and Anusha Yadav of The Indian Memory Project.

The Family Camera Project

A crowd-sourced collecting project led by Dr. Deepali Dewan, The Family Camera Project aims to create an archive of family photographs to be preserved in the ROM Collection. Further details can be found here:

Open Wound

To preserve the collective memory of the1947 Partition that created India and Pakistan, artist Annu Palakunnathu Matthew's Open Wound project will speak with and photograph affected families. Further details available here:

Presented By:

Generations: Annu Palakunnathu Matthew is organized by the Royal Ontario Museum. Co-presented as a Primary Exhibition of the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival.

ROM Social Media

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About the ROM

Opened in 1914, Canada's largest museum of natural history and world cultures has six million objects in its collections and galleries showcasing art, archaeology and natural science. The ROM is the largest field research institution in the country, and a world leader in research areas from biodiversity, palaeontology, and earth sciences to archaeology, ethnology and visual culture - originating new information towards a global understanding of historical and modern change in culture and environment. For 24-hour information in English and French, please call 416.586.8000 or visit the ROM's web site at Tickets are available online at

ROM Contemporary Culture

Following a 20 year history of culturally diverse programming, the Institute for Contemporary Culture at the ROM (ICC at the ROM) has now become one of the Museum's Centres of Discovery and is now ROM Contemporary Culture. Through innovative exhibitions and contemporary projects, the centre provides insight and inspiration to help our community make sense of the modern world and connect with one another. ROM Contemporary Culture links the past to the present through the creation of new content and experiences related to the Museum's collections. Imaginative, experimental and eclectic in its approach, Contemporary Culture explores new ideas and new technologies to raise provocative questions about the natural world, living cultures and the creative mind.

Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival

CONTACT is an annual festival of photography in Toronto, during the month of May, with over 1500 local, national and international artists exhibiting at more than 175 venues. Founded as a not-for-profit organization in 1997 and granted charitable status in 2011, the festival is devoted to celebrating, and fostering the art and profession of photography. It stimulates excitement and discussion among a diverse audience that has grown to over 1.9 million visits. CONTACT is the largest photography event in the world, and a premier cultural event in Canada. For more information: