Tuesday, September 12th. 7:00pm
Jeff Chien-Hsing Liao
Book Presentation and Lecture on Liao's most recent work: "Central Park New York".
Jeff Chien-Hsing Liao was born in Taiwan in 1977, and immigrated in 1999 to the United States,residing in the Queens Borough of New York City. He lived in close proximity of the 7-subway line, and created his renowned “Habitat 7” series, which stated his claim and love for New York City. Over the years, Liao has transitioned from large format film to digital photography. By digitally manipulating multiple exposures of Central Park while adapting a vertical format traditionally found in 17th century Chinese scroll paintings, Liao pays homage to both his Taiwanese heritage and identity as a New Yorker.
Central Park New York, 24 Solar Terms looks at a dynamic and ever-changing landscape. At once familiar, the “lung of Manhattan” still reveals surprises. Liao invites us into mysterious enclaves primed for intimacy and reflection carefully hidden among the familiar public gathering sites and well-founded landmarks.
In 2012, Liao won the Emerging Icon in Photography Award from George Eastman House. His series “Habitat 7” received critical acclaim, and in 2005, Liao was honored with the New York Times Magazine “Capture the Times” photography contest. Liao’s work can be found in the permanent collections of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Queens Museum, NY, Brooklyn Museum, NY, J. Paul Getty Museum, LA, George Eastman House-International Museum of Photography and Film, NY, the Norton Museum of Art and the Deutsche Bank art collection.
“Central Park New York -24 Solar Terms” will be on view at Foley Gallery from September 6th until October 15th, 2017.
Brief Interview with Jeff Chien-Hsing Liao
by Nathalie Guio
1. In your photographic practice technology seems to have a special place. You shoot for hours and spend a lot of time in your digital darkroom re-assembling reality. Would you say that in your work there is a need to depict urban landscapes and its changes and also the changes in the medium itself, as a reflection of one another?
Digital technology doesn't make my photography easier, but gives me more options.
I used to work with traditional large format 8x10 cameras, and over the years I have slowly transitioned into working with high-end digital medium format cameras. This shift in equipment has allowed me to capture more images, which widens the possibility of my selection. Those images are later processed into a final composition. Rather than taking and using one single image, I take several hundred photographs over a period of hours. Then I process all the raw files and, using digital editing software, create a single image for each of the photographed locations. These final images use different moments from different frames, but create a seamless photograph. Each image then represents the full range of activities that took place at the photographed location during a typical day, and all the images together show the life, vitality and variety that occurred during that day.
Though this method gives me artistic and editorial control similar to that of a painter in front of a canvas, the results yielded are far more surprising than what can be predetermined. The large, billboard-sized prints reveal the scope and intricacy of each neighborhood, and a full portrait of the people living and working there, in ways that are at once macro- and microscopic and cannot be achieved by any other photographic means.
2. You moved to New York at the age of 22. What is your relationship with the city after photographing it for so long?
While I’ve been living along these tracks for years, I am 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. I set out to photograph the ‘habitat’ as I came to see it, with a focus not on the individual but rather the people as a whole, as well as their relationship to their environment.
3. Are you interested in exploring other cities?
My new projects will not focus on city. In the last few years, I have been traveling back to Asia to photograph festivals, night markets, and colonial architecture. But I would love to photograph Venice in Winter. :)
Tuesday, September 19th. 7:00pm
STEVEN P HARRIS
Steven Phillip Harris is a New York based artist living in Brooklyn. He holds an MFA in Studio Art and is currently teaching photography at Queens College. The surrealist relationship to camera-less photographs became a focus for Harris as he experimented with the chemical process and materiality of the black & white photographic medium. This work plays with modes of perception in an unexpected spontaneous style by bending the traditional rules working with a light sensitive chemical process. Harris has exhibited at Mana Contemporary gallery in NJ, Sideshow gallery in Brooklyn, and in the New York State Museum in Albany, NY, SUNY Empire State College in NYC, and at Queens College/CUNY, Flushing, NY. Clients include work produced for the artist Marina Abramovic, video projects for the Sculpture’s Guild, and images produced for Sean Kelly NY artist books and exhibitions at Whitney Museum of American Art. Harris continues to explore, exhibit, teach and pursue the limits of the photographic process.
Brief Interview with STEVEN P HARRIS
by Nathalie Guio
1. Perception seems to be central in your work. Can you talk about what inspires your practice?
In thinking about photographs I try to connect across seemingly distant historical moments, linking elements of process that are imbued with a sense of mystery. This ambiguity in my work connects to my sense of inquisitiveness, which attracts me and draws me in! Artistically I am attempting to use a hybrid method of analog & digital techniques that work together to stimulate a sense of experimentation and to captivate the viewer. This sense of experimentation with the analog process can arouse ones sense of curiosity in ways that may have been experienced in the early days of the discovery of the photographic process.
2. What is the connection you establish between poetry (or metaphor) and the camera-less process in your practice?
In about 2010, I began working with a 4x5 inch camera obscura (or pinhole camera) together with instant Polaroid film, moving away from shooting with a traditional lens based camera system. With its soft look and distorted qualities images made with a pinhole reflect aspects of our dreams or the process of remembering events in the past. Poetry can work on levels that connect thoughts, memories, and open pathways to how we visualize a poem’s meaning in our imagination. When one sees a peculiar aspect or ambiguity in an image that is not easily defined, it can inspire an aesthetic of positive creativity. The concept of how a lens-less photographic image can be perceived and interpreted, by the viewer was a process I wanted to engage with in my practice. After working with the camera obscura for a few years, I began working in the darkroom with camera-less techniques. This process pushed me to construct my images physically with objects and projected images on analog photo paper directly under safelights in the darkroom. This style of working developed into a dialogue between the nature of the materials and the manipulation through process on one hand and the relationships to the viewer’s imagination and perceptions of their own experience on the other.
3. In your work you mix analog and digital technologies. It seems like a conversation between processes that nurtures a complex imaginary. Could you talk about this?
Beginning with the Luminous Translations series, I merged ideas of the early photogram process developed in the 1830s, combined with found negatives and light painted onto photosensitive paper. Using broad sweeping strokes I created unfamiliar forms that interacted with the magnified details in the backgrounds of these images. This process illustrates how photographs can be constructed to simulate imagery that moves beyond the capabilities of normal human perception and enters the dimension of fictive or otherworldly space. As I progressed and experimented with this project, I produced a series of unique prints titled, Water’s Edge. For this group I used found objects that I collected from the shoreline of New York City to make a corporeal connection between the natural and the urban environments via the black and white analog process. The prints are a montage of these objects, both natural and manmade, along with projected images and photogram techniques that speak directly to the materiality of the early photographic process. A record is made via the photogram process between the debris discarded from the urban world and remnants from the natural world along the water’s edge. I also incorporated digital images that were projected as black and white negatives as a way to merge the two processes in this work. I wish to focus the viewer on the many visual dialects and modes of production analog and digital photography can occupy, disrupting the familiar everyday experience with a mysterious translation of the mind's eye.
Tuesday, September 26th. 7:00pm
In conversation: ANdrea Stern & Joan LIFTIN
Book presentation and conversation on Stern's most recent book: Dog Days (bookdummypress, 2017).
Andrea Stern is an artist living and working in New York City. Her first book, Inheritance (The Monacelli press 2007), chronicles her family and community in documentary style tableaus. Her most recent bookAssembly, (bookdummypress, 2013), is a collection of large-scale group portraits of children within the specialized world of competition, pageantry and performance. Her work is in the permanent collections of the Los Angeles County Museum, The Cleveland Museum of Art, and The Addison Gallery of American Art, The Center for Creative Photography, and numerous private collections. Her photographs have been widely published and exhibited throughout the United States, the Netherlands, Switzerland, England and France. Stern holds a degree from Brown University and a Master of Fine Arts from New York University.
Joan Liftin has worked as a photographer, photo book editor and teacher for many years. She is the author of two photo books Drive-Ins (2004), and Marseille (2015) and she is currently working on a new book. Liftin was Director of the Documentary Program at the International Center of Photography (from l988 to 2000), where she met Andrea Stern. Liftin was the Director of Magnum Photos library, and had edited many books, including Mary Ellen Mark's Falkland Road, Charles Harbutt's Departures and Arrivals, Magnum's Paris (with Inge Morath) and Andrea Stern's Inheritance. In 2017, her archive was acquired by the Center for Creative Photography in Tucson, Arizona.
Brief Interview with ANDREA STERN
by Nathalie Guio
1- Dog Days is a book with personal images from your archive. How did you start working on this project?
It was June, a short time after Charlie Harbutt died, and Joan, surviving the loss of her soul mate and a 40-year marriage, was down. I asked her if there was anything I could do, and she said “the best thing for me is work.” I was winding down, myself, from a busy year– completing my MFA, relocating homes, and organizing a bar-mitzvah – and couldn’t imagine starting something new. Thinking nothing long term would come of it, I offered Joan access to my archive. Her original plan was to work on Assembly, a series I shot from 2007-2014, large format portraits of children in a pageantry of organized activities but, once inside my database, her attention gravitated toward my earliest B&W work. With a phone call Joan began mining these raw and personal pictures, many of which had never been shown or printed. We met a few weeks later to review initial sequences, maybe 25 pictures total, and while the images were my own, the narrative that unfurled was completely fresh to me, and exciting. It was thrilling. The moment brought me back to the discovery I made 25 years earlier – how photographs can say or show things that can’t be told in any other language. Dog Days distills hundreds of pictures, from a 3-4- year period that, thru Joan’s eyes, is completely new to me, yet still my own. Suddenly, the project wasn’t work anymore and I jumped in, to see it thru.
2. In the book you wrote: "[...] But seen through the aperture of time and forgiving eyes, this collection recalls a debt owed to my younger self, who, undaunted by the outcome, lived close to her questions." Could you talk more about the meaning of this poetic phrase?
It was from a time in my life where I had judged myself harshly. A time when I worked doggedly for years but felt I didn’t have much to show for it. It wasn’t until we starting putting this book together that I realized the work from that time, while it hadn’t materialized into a product, then, cleared a path for the work I do now.
3. You have known and worked with Joan for years. How is this last collaboration different from the previous ones?
This collaboration, because of how it came to be, was the most surprising and exciting. Part of its’ joy, came from not having an agenda for this book, and so, there was no force of will, or expectation on either of our parts to negotiate.
Joan’s process was so pure, it just unfolded organically, and I felt moved and honored that my work could inspire that passion and interest in her. It also helps that we have a mutual admiration club for each other -- we love each other -- and have forged a deep friendship over all these years. What wasn’t fun, was the handwringing about production details, and the writing – that was painful. But, the pictures came together beautifully and naturally.