Houston, TX - Houston Center for Photography announces three exciting exhibitions that coincide with FOTOFEST2008’s themes of China and transformations. Please join us to celebrate the opening receptions for Jeff Chien-Hsing Liao’s project Habitat 7, Susan Meiselas and Orville Schell’s exhibitionMined in China, and the group show Native Land featuring work by members of the Houston Chinese Photographic Society (HCPS) on Saturday, March 8 from 6-9pm. Jeff Chien-Hsing Liao, Susan Meiselas and members from the HCPS will be in attendance. The exhibitions will remain on view in the HCP galleries from March 9 – April 20, 2008.
Jeff Chien-Hsing Liao’s project Habitat 7 highlights the immigrant communities that live along the “7” subway and train line connecting New York City’s Times Square to the communities in northwest Queens, an area that comprises of the most ethnically diverse county in the nation.
As part of this dense population of people from a multitude
of cultural backgrounds, Liao (originally from Taiwan) has lived along the 7 line for years but is “still constantly awed by the complexity of the communities formed alongside it as well as the harmony so many people of distinct backgrounds are able to live in.”
These large scale photographs (each measuring 8’ long) absorb an atmosphere of diversity and are brilliantly packed with details as a result. Created by using a large format camera and numerous exposures, the artist seams together multiple images over time to form a reproduction of the habitat along a train line that has long been dubbed “The International Express.”
Jeff Chien-Hsing Liao earned an MFA from the School of Visual Arts in NYC and a BFA from Pratt Institute. He is the first prize winner of the New York Times “Capture the Times” photo contest. His photographs have been widely featured in publications, including Art in America, ArtNews, Photo District News, the New York Times Sunday Magazine, and the Village Voice. His first monograph, HABITAT 7, was published by Nazraeli Press in 2007 and features an essay by MFAH curator Anne Wilkes Tucker.
Susan Meiselas, a long time photographer with the international photographer’s cooperative Magnum Photos, has collaborated with scholar and Asia Society Director Orville Schell to create Mined in China, a multi-media installation that includes the work of fourteen Chinese documentary photographers working with photography and video. Meiselas will speak about this project and others at DiverseWorks on Sunday, March 9 beginning at 8pm. The lecture is co-sponsored by FotoFest, HCP, DiverseWorks, and University of Houston’s Visual Studies Department.
The exhibition Mined in Chinaturns its focus onto the coal industry that has led to China’s charged economic development, beginning with a country in the 1950’s that revered its coal miners as “model workers” up to the industry of present day, where workers have come to be seen as minute players in the larger machine of rapid industrialization. The work is a presentation through the eyes of a number of photographers that have traveled across the country to document this complex industry as they have witnessed it.
Seventy-percent of China’s energy comes from burning coal, using more coal than the US, Europe, and Japan combined. A new coal plant opens each week across the country, many of which are dangerous, illegal and some of the most hazardous work conditions in the world today. Smoke and pollution linger in the air and many rivers have been stripped of their water due to irrigation and industry uses. As a result of the aggressive use of coal that has given China an enormous amount of economic success, the country and its people risk environmental disaster.
Susan Meiselas received her BA from Sarah Lawrence College, New York, and her MA in visual education from Harvard University. Meiselas ' first major photographic essay focused on the lives of women doing striptease at New England country fairs. Carnival Strippers was published in 1976, and a selection of the images was installed at the Whitney Museum of Art in June 2000. She joined Magnum Photos in 1976. Best known for her coverage of the Latin America, her second monograph, Nicaragua, June 1978-July 1979, appeared in 1981.
Meiselas has co-directed two films: Living at Risk: The Story of a Nicaraguan Family (1986) and Pictures from a Revolution (1991) with Richard P. Rogers and Alfred Guzzetti. In 1997 she completed a six-year project curating a 100-year visual history of Kurdistan. Her 2001 monograph, Pandora's Box, which explores a New York S&M club, was followed by Encounters with the Dani, an account of an indigenous people living in Indonesia's Papua highlands. Meiselas received the Robert Capa Gold Medal for 'outstanding courage and reporting' from the Overseas Press Club for her work in Nicaragua; the Maria Moors Cabot Prize from Columbia University for her coverage of Latin America; and, in 2005, the Cornell Capa Infinity Award. In 1992 she was named a MacArthur Fellow.
Orville Schell is the author of over fourteen books on China and other topics and numerous articles for such publications as Time Magazine, The New York Review of Books, Foreign Affairs, Harper's, The New Yorker and the New York Times. He is the former Dean of the Graduate School of Journalism at UC Berkeley and current Director of the Asia Society's Center on US-China Relations in New York City.
The Houston Chinese Photographic Society presents Native Land, a body of work exploring the different landscapes across the expansive nation of China. HCPS members are recent immigrants from China or 1st generation Americans of Chinese descent. The photographs in this exhibition were taken on a ‘return to home,’ capturing both familiar and foreign lands anew.
Ranging from the mysterious sculptural structures atop Shan-Chin Mountain in the Jiangxi province of southern China to the pastoral beauty that spreads across the Bayanbulak Grasslands of the sparsely populated Xingjiang province in northwestern China, these photographs embody the peaceful and idyllic parts of the country that still remain, outside of China’s large cities that hold root to its status as an international economic powerhouse.
Important Upcoming Events
February 15 – HCP’s 26th Anniversary Print Auction at the Junior League of Houston, starting at 5:30pm
February 21 – Opening reception for Magnum Photos and Baume & Mercier’s exhibition Moments in Time and HIWI Show Us Why book party, 6-8pm in the HCP galleries. Magnum exhibition continues through March 6. Free and open to the public.
March 6 – VIP closing reception for Moments in Time and pre-launch party for FOTOFEST2008, in partnership with FotoFest
March 8 – Opening reception for Habitat 7, Mined in China and Native Lands, 6-9pm. Free and open to the public.
March 9 – Susan Meiselas “Collaborative Projects” lecture at DiverseWorks, co-sponsored by HCP, FotoFest, DiverseWorks, and University of Houston’s Visual Studies Department. Free and open to the public. Reservations recommended.
March 10 – Tour of Jeff Chien-Hsing Liao’s exhibition Habitat 7 with Anne Wilkes Tucker, Curator of Photograph at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and contributing writer in Liao’s first monograph, Habitat 7. Free and open to the public.