Love, designed

Bonding – Family of choice

12 September 2023
From the exhibition

You can’t choose your family, only your friends. In addition to their biological family, many people have one they’ve chosen for themselves: people you’re not related to, people who understand, help and love you. Who cheer you up when you’re down, run errands for you when you’re in bed with flu and who celebrate your birthday every year.

The idea of choosing your own family has become increasingly important in postmodern society. More so than in the past, we try to beat loneliness by creating our own trusted circle. Towards the end of the 1960s, hippies set up alternative communities that functioned as extended families and were based on shared possessions and solidarity. It didn’t always turn out well. Pressure to conform with the group and the lack of personal property frequently caused problems.

Football and belonging
Subcultures can also form close-knit communities that provide a sense of bonding, whether they’re a football club, drama society or group of friends. Dressing in a similar way often reinforces your sense of connection with each other. Matching outfits convey a message of belonging, togetherness and unity.

Remote families
Social media have made it possible to form families even at a distance: tightly knit groups of people who might never even meet in real life, but who nevertheless feel connected by a shared interest or emotional bond.

LGBTQI+ families
The most powerful refutation of the idea that you can choose your friends, but not your family, is offered by the ‘houses’ you find in the ballroom and drag scene: alternative families of choice that take in those who suffer exclusion. LGBTQI+ people give a new meaning there to the word ‘family’.