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Curatorial Activities

Since 2005, exhibitions that I’ve curated have opened at museums and galleries in Canada, China, Finland, Hong Kong, Italy, Rumania, Slovakia, Spain, Taiwan, and the U.S. Here are brief descriptions of these shows, links to online sources of further information, plus some QuickTime movies and html slideshows about these projects.

Current/Past

Lui Xia, "Untitled" (1996-99). Photograph © Liu Xia.

Lui Xia, “Untitled” (1996-99). Photograph © Liu Xia.

The Silent Strength of Liu Xia, a touring exhibition of black & white photos by the dissident Chinese artist, photographer, and poet. Curated with Guy Sorman. The negatives (most dated between 1996 and 1999) were made with an old Russian 2-1/4 twin-lens reflex camera; most of them were exposed in her Beijing apartment. Their nominal subjects are still-life arrangements of an assortment of  what she calls ”ugly kids” dolls that a friend brought her years ago from Brazil.

Liu Xia, wife of the imprisoned 2010 Nobel Peace Prize awardee Liu Xiaobo, currently lives under house arrest. Produced secretly in Beijing, the dramatically oversized prints in this exhibition were extracted from the PRC one at a time in a process supervised by the intrepid journalist and social commentator Guy Sorman, author of the scathing critique The Empire of Lies: The Truth about China in the Twenty-First Century (French edition 2008, English edition 2010) and numerous other texts about China.

This show began its tour in October 2011, and will tour indefinitely — at least until both Liu Xia and Liu Xiaobo are freed by the Chinese government. A project of Flying Dragon LLC. For details, click here.

Saga monograph coverSaga: The Journey of Arno Rafael Minkkinen. A 35-year retrospective of the work of this Finnish-American photographer. Curated with Todd Brandow. Accompanied by a full catalogue/monograph, published by Chronicle Books, with texts by myself, Alan Lightman, Arthur C. Danto, and Minkkinen. A project of the Foundation for the Exhibition of Photography.

Yu Haibo, “Night Moves,” 2001

China: Insights. A cross-section of contemporary documentary work from mainland China, exploring the transition from the rural/agrarian environment to the urban/industrial setting in the new PRC. Photographs by: Chen Yuanzhong, Hua Er, Jia Yuchuan, Li Nan, Yang Yankang, Yu Haibo, and Zhang Xinmin. Curated with Gu Zheng of the Dept. of Visual Culture, Fudan University, Shanghai. A project of the Foundation for the Exhibition of Photography, in collaboration with Flying Dragon Cultural Enterprises. Tour dates: April 2008-December 2012.

  • China: Insights premiere, Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK, April 18, 2008. For a QuickTime movie or HTML slideshow of the installation and opening, click on the preceding links.
  • China: Insights at the Light Factory, Charlotte, NC, January 15-March 29, 2009.
  • China: Insights at the May Gallery, Webster University, St. Louis, MO, February 26-March 26, 2010.

See+ Gallery, Uelsmann poster, 2008See+ Art Space/Gallery, Beijing, China. Beginning in spring 2008, I have curated 7 exhibitions involving 13 photographers for this new commercial gallery in Beijing’s famous 798 Art District, a large cluster of repurposed industrial structures. All of these have been accompanied by substantial catalogues with curatorial texts. In all cases to date except Minkkinen’s and Uelsmann’s, these exhibitions have represented the first exposure of their work to the audience in mainland China. (Minkkinen’s work made its PRC debut under my supervision at the Lianzhou International Photography Festival in December 2006; see above. Uelsmann had a major retrospective in Beijing in 2006, with a substantial catalogue but no accompanying gallery show.)

  • Saga: The Journey of Arno Rafael Minkkinen, May 17-September ??, 2008. For my curatorial essay on Minkkinen, click here. For a light-table display of his pictures, click here. For commentary, click here. For aQuicktime slideshow of the installation and opening, click here.
  • Prima Facie/Circumstantial Evidence, Jerry Uelsmann and Maggie Taylor, October 25-??2008. For my curatorial essay on Uelsmann, click here. For a light-table display of his pictures, click here. For my curatorial essay on Taylor, click here. For a light-table display of her pictures, click here.
  • Light Quartet catalogue coverLight Quartet, a four-person show by Kate Breakey, Connie Imboden, Jerry Spagnoli, and Robert Stivers, June 6-July 18, 2009. Introducing the audience in mainland China to four mid-career photographers from the U.S. (Breakey, who emigrated from Australia, now lives and works in Tucson, AZ.) I chose these picture-maker to represent the diversity of craft practice and image content among the creative photographers of their generation in the west. Click here for an online version of this catalogue, augmented with additional materials, at the VASA Project.
  • Two American Masters: Wynn Bullock and Harold Feinstein, March 20-May 15, 2010. For my curatorial essay on Bullock, click here. For a light-table display of his pictures, click here. For my curatorial essay on Feinstein, click here. For a light-table display of his pictures, click here. For commentary, click here. For a QuickTime slideshow of the installation and opening, click here.
  • Two American Masters: Ralph Gibson and Arthur Tress, January 10-March 15, 2011. For my curatorial essay on Gibson, click here. For a light-table display of his pictures, click here. For my curatorial essay on Tress, click here. For a light-table display of his pictures, click here.
  • Mary Ellen Mark: Portrait as Document, June 4, 2011-September 1, 2011. For my curatorial essay, click here. For a light-table display of the pictures, click here.
  • George Tice: The Poetry of the Everyday, June 4, 2011-September 1, 2011. For my curatorial essay, click here. For a light-table display of the pictures, click here.

The long-term goal of this series of small, concentrated exhibitions is to present a cross-section of work from the west, most of it produced post-1940, to inform the growing audience for photography in mainland China of the diversity of content and image-making practices among photographers from the west.

Hypothetical/Proposed

Harold Feinstein, "Boy & Chalk Numbers," 1955

Harold Feinstein, “Boy & Chalk Numbers,” 1955

Heart of the Matter: Harold Feinstein, Photographs 1946-2011. A 65-year retrospective of the work of this American photographer. Accompanied by a full catalogue/monograph, with texts by myself and Feinstein, plus a feature-length documentary film on the photographer.

Despite an intensive marketing campaign across the U.S. and Canada 2009-2011, I found no takers for this proposed touring exhibition. Nor did either the accompanying catalogue/monograph or the documentary film eventuate. Thus it remains purely a curatorial idea, unrealized in physical form, actualized only in cyberspace — the internet serving the function of André Malraux’s “imaginary museum.” For details, click here.

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