Spanning 35 years in the career of acclaimed photographer Wing Young Huie, We are the Other collectively reflects the cultural complexities of American society. While his work has been shown in international museums—more than half a million people have viewed his traveling exhibit in China—his most well-known projects, Lake Street USA and University Avenue Project, transformed the Twin Cities thoroughfares into six-mile photo-galleries that reflected the everyday lives of thousands of people.
Although much of Wing’s work has been focused on his home state of Minnesota, it includes photographs from around the United States and China. Nearly every one of the thousands of people he’s photographed is a stranger, but in many cases he interviews and documents their conversations, which are then displayed alongside their portraits.
When Wing Young Huie started as a documentary photographer, his goal was to make what he thought was a good photograph: the photograph as an aesthetic object. But the interactive process emerged as an important factor, if not more important than the resulting photograph. A photograph, no matter how good, is still just a surface description.
How then to create an image that goes below the surface to reveal the relational aspects of photographing strangers? Wing Young Huie has employed a variety of concepts to expand his documentary instincts: having people write revealing statements on chalkboards, introducing neighbors who don’t know each other to each other and photographing them collectively in each other’s places, and wearing the clothes of Chinese men whose lives he could’ve had, blurring the boundary between photographer and subject.
Support for this exhibition was provided by FotoFocus and The George and Margaret Mclane Foundation.