A featured exhibition of the 2018 FotoFocus Biennial
Kennedy Heights Arts Center presents We are the Other, a retrospective exhibition of the work of Wing Young Huie, as part of the 2018 FotoFocus Biennial. The exhibition runs from September 29 – November 10, 2018, with an opening reception on Saturday, September 29 from 6 to 9 pm.
For over 30 years, acclaimed photographer Wing Young Huie, recently named The McKnight Foundation’s 2018 Distinguished Artist, has captured the complex cultural realities of American society. His work has been shown in international museums and in Minnesota storefront windows. Wing uses photography as a societal mirror and window, seeking to reveal not only what is hidden, but also what is plainly visible and seldom noticed, providing a collective portrait of the “them” who are really us.
When Wing started as a documentary photographer, the goal was to make what he thought was a good photograph—the photograph as an aesthetic object. Then he started to think that the interactive process was as important, 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? He has employed a variety of concepts, expanding 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.
His most well-known projects, Lake Street USA (2000), and The University Avenue Project (2010), transformed Minneapolis and Saint Paul thoroughfares into six-mile photo galleries—exhibiting photographs in store windows, on bus stops and the sides of buildings—reflecting the everyday lives of thousands of citizens in the midst of some of the most diverse concentrations of international immigrants in the country.
Though much of his work centers on his homeland of Minnesota, in his recent series Chinese-ness, Wing focused his camera on his own background — an exploration of Chinese identity that for him has long been distant, as the child of immigrant parents who grew up in a predominantly white neighborhood in Duluth, Minnesota. Wing explores experiences of identity in the United States and the Motherland of China, employing documentary and conceptual conceits, and occasionally a chalkboard.
In his recent I Am the Other series, Wing enters the lives of his subjects, Chinese men of his approximate age, living lives he might have lived. The resulting photographs produce a hypothetical memoir, a record of an alternate reality in which the contingencies of history have run a different course.
In this retrospective show at Kennedy Heights Arts Center, his first exhibition in Ohio, Wing Young Huie will exhibit pieces from his Lake Street USA, University Avenue Project, Chinese-ness, and I Am the Other series, as well as some of his most current work.
Wing Young Huie will present a free public lecture on “What Do You See?” in Kennedy Heights Arts Center’s Lindner Annex, 6620 Montgomery Road, on Sunday, September 30 at 2:00 pm. While sharing anecdotes and insights into his creative process—and experiences interacting with thousands of strangers—this dynamic, interactive slide show confronts many divisive social issues, such as cultural bias, immigration, religion, and social disconnection.
More information about the artist can be found here.
Image credit: Man and Boy, Saint Paul, Minnesota by Wing Young Huie. Digital C-Print, 1997.
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