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The photo album: an emotional family?

Doriane Molay

Research framework: With the democratization of photography, the practice of keeping a family album has become widespread. Objects produced from snapshots, texts, drawings and collages have imposed themselves as founding structures of unique affective communities. Yet, since this practice has entered the field of research, this medium has only been considered in terms of sociology leaving aside the study of forms, as well as in terms of artistic disciplines, thus projecting a particularism preventing any hermeneutics.

Objectives: This article aims to reread the practice of family album through its materiality so as to apprehend its significance for the subjects represented within a group whose specificities we must understand.

Methodology: In order to do this, we will rely on the collections of the Niepce Museum (Burgundy, France) and the consultation of nearly a thousand items, 219 of which form the core, mainly French photographic albums produced between 1880 and 1980.

Results: This research observes the important fragmentation of the album space, which it will consider as a place that gathers, preserves and secures the sensitive expression of a fantasized family. It also examines the album through the prism of play and the experiments in social relationships that it allows.

Conclusion: Thus, the album is at the heart of the discipline, social aesthetics, and sociological dimensions, which confirms their co-dependence and testifies to the expressive scope of the object itself.

Contribution: To our knowledge, no study has considered a sufficiently large corpus of relics and disciplines are often dissociated by research in order to consider the family album in its entirety, for its form and its content.