Here's Looking at You!
2017.04.23 – 06.25
“Here’s Looking at You” takes as its subject the self in photographs as a vehicle for examining the diverse ways in which people choose to be photographed, and how the ways in which we see ourselves have (or haven’t) changed from the 1980s to today.
The exhibition begins with a selection from the Beijing Silvermine archive, an on-going salvage operation conceived by French national Thomas Sauvin when he was living in Beijing. Begun in 2009, today the half-a-million-strong archive offers a unique historic picture of China between 1985 and 2005.
Little North Road, a project conceived by American photographer Daniel Traub, produced in collaboration with photographers Zeng Xianfang and Wu Yongfu paints its unique picture of the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou. In 2009, on the pedestrian bridge named Little North Road, Traub observed Wu Yongfu taking souvenir portraits of African nationals. Thus began a collaboration, which was joined by Zeng in 2011. The thousands of images that accrued to their project achieve a vivid record of a unique socio-economic moment in time.
Our third selection is taken from the growing archive of Hefei-based street photographer Liu Tao and provides a counterpoint to the image of self as seen in the more formal portraits of the Beijing Silvermine and Little North Road. Liu Tao’s focus is his neighborhood and its residents, whom he snaps in their most unconscious moments, entirely unaware of themselves as they appear in the photographs. Liu Tao’s photographs are the very antithesis of the selfie.
How we choose to look at or see ourselves as the subject of a photographic portrait is a complex act. The diverse, often humorous portraits presented in “Here’s Looking at You” highlight the ways in which this complexity unfolds and how deeply our delight in self-images is rooted.
Thomas Sauvin (1983-)
French national Thomas Sauvin is an artist and collector of photography, previously based in Beijing, now resident in Paris. Beijing Silvermine has been exhibited internationally and in photography festivals in China and Europe. It is also the subject of a several carefully-selected themed publications.
Daniel Traub (1971-)
Daniel Traub is a New York-based photographer and filmmaker, originally from Philadelphia. Since 1999, he has worked on long-term photographic projects in China, including Simplified Characters, a series of street pictures that explore the vast changes taking place in Chinese cities at the start of the 21st century. Another series, Peripheries, looks at landscapes lying on the outskirts of several major Chinese cities.
Wu Yongfu (1979-)
Wu Yongfu left his home in Jiangxi Province in search of opportunity to arrive in Guangzhou in 2003. After some years working in the aluminum industry, Wu began to make a living by taking souvenir photographs for tourists in Zhongxin Square. From 2009 to 2011, he made portraits for the many Africans, among others, who passed by on Xiaobeilu (Little North Road).
Zeng Xianfang (1980-)
Zeng Xianfang moved to Guangzhou in search of work in 2009 from Hunan Province. There he learned to take photographs and together with his wife began producing portraits on Xiaobeilu (Little North Road). He stopped in the summer of 2015, but together with his family, continues to live and work in the vicinity.
Liu Tao (1981-)
Liu Tao is a self-taught street photographer based in Hefei, Anhui province. His work was shortlisted for the Sixth Three Shadows Photography Awards; he was a finalist for XITEK 2014 New Talent Award. His works have been seen on a range of media and publications internationally, such as Time, BBC China, South China Morning Post, CCTV, etc. His photography has been exhibited in Germany and Japan.