Timely photographs at Bates College Museum of Art
China seems to be front and center in every publication these days, and not just because of the Olympics. Their astonishingly rapid growth, global environmental impact and social changes will provide fascinating reading for the foreseeable future.
Round out all the written word with some visual. At Bates College Museum of Art, there is an exhibit of works by contemporary Chinese photographers and it’s worth a trip. The content is fascinating because it’s obvious these artists are documenting the momentous changes that have been taking place in their country for the last 15 years and which are now accelerating beyond belief. The expertise of these photographers is impressive – the variety of approaches to the issues makes you hungry for more. I was able to satisfy that frustration by allowing enough time to work my way through several of the books available for study at a little table in the exhibit room – one in particular “Between Past and Future – New Photographs and Video from China” (2004) is an eye-opener, I can assure you, and makes the visit to the exhibit much more complete for the photograph scholar and professional.
The photographs portray the entire spectrum of the hectic-paced transition China is now undergoing. From the gaudy houses of the newly wealthy to astonishing endless streets of skyscrapers and millions of cellphones surrounded by the vestiges of an ancient way of life, this exhibit really does make an impression.
“Stairway to Heaven” (slideshow available at this URL) runs through December 14, so there’s no rush. The Museum owns half of the images and Curator Mark Bessire is obviously a big fan of Chinese photographic art.
© Weng Fen, Courtesy of Bates College Museum of Art
© Zhu Feng, Courtesy of Bates College Museum of Art
© Ai Weiwei, Courtesy of Bates College Museum of Art