Do immigrants have a particular photographic vision of the United States? Is there such a thing as a Chinese aesthetic, focus, point of view? These are some of the questions addressed in “America Through a Chinese Lens,” an intriguing and provocative travelogue at the Museum of Chinese in America, the newest of New York City’s museums dedicated to a cultural group. For the show, curator Herb Tam has assembled work from a wide range of photographers of Chinese heritage who depict the sweep of the country: from generic-looking suburbs to national monuments memorialized in dead-pan images by artists like Wing Young Huie andTseng Kwong Chi to abject urban settings where teens party into the night. What unites it all, Tam says, is a sense of the outsider, that “we’re trying to get used to ourselves in this space.”
While the show is going on, new media artist An Xiao will be traveling the nation, posting her own photographic observations right here on Tumblr, at chineseinamerica.tumblr.com. But tonight she is in New York, for a panel at the museum called “Where is Photography?”, where, with Hyperallergic’s Hrag Vartanian and curator Stephanie Tung, she’ll discuss the increasing private way our public lives are shared, along with other issues raised by the fast-changing methods in which we record and distribute images of our own experience.
Wing Young Huie, Death Valley, California, 2001, digital C-print. Courtesy of the artist.