Matthew Avignone started Stranger Than Family five years ago while he was visiting his family in the rural suburbs of Illinois. Adopted from South Korea by an American couple, photography became a tool to comprehend with enough distance his own clan and the curious feeling of belonging to a family.
From the series of formal portraits displayed on the cover of Stranger Than Family, he began to create an archeology of photographic memory in assembling documents, photographs and objects. Both as a member of his own family and as a stranger with a camera, he has been continuously investing and recording the ordinary life of his family as well as the major turns of their history.
After realizing a first book in 2011, called An Unfinished Body, he continued to explore further the definition of family through photography: How the familiar is constantly standing alongside the unknown? What make individuals relating to a group? How photography can transcribe singular stories into a common history that can be shared with the viewer?
The narrative starts in 1988, when Mike and Pam Avignone gathered with their friends and family at O’hare International Airport to welcome their first son Chun Yung Ho, now named Matthew Michael Avignone. As a family, they continued to grow over the next fourteen years through the adoption of four more children from South Korea and India with three of them dealing with special needs ranging from Blindness, Spina-Bifida and Neurofibromatosis. From this unusual story, the photographer gives a vision of a classic American middle-class family life to the viewer.
This book is above all a chronicle of individuals who, by standing together, create a common history.
"Full Essay on Stranger Than Family by Michael Weinstein" matthewavignone.com/words-on-stranger-than-family-by-michael
Stranger Than Family is a hand-made book produced by Matthew Avignone in October, 2014. It contains 96 archival pigment photographs printed on cotton rag paper. Hard bound-cover with an archival pigment print inlaid on recto.
136 pages. 9.75 x 8.5 x 1.25 inches.
Matthew Avignone is a Korean-American photographer born in 1987. In 2011, he obtained his B.A. in photography from Columbia College, Chicago. He has been nominated for the 2012 Baum Award for Emerging American Photographer (The Baum Foundation, San Francisco, CA). His work has been exhibited at the Aperture Foundation (2011) and in the Pingyao Photography Festival: Student Exhibition, Pingyao, China (2011). His book, An Unfinished Body, is now part of the collections of the George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film (Rochester, New York) and the International Center for Photography (New York, NY). He is currently working and living in Chicago. matthewavignone.com