School of Art, Media, and Technology

Works from the MFA Photography and Related Media Program Made in China at NYC's Frontrunner Gallery

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Parsons The New School for Design presents:
Works from the MFA Photography and Related Media Program Made in China

Frontrunner Gallery
59 Franklin Street
(between Broadway and Lafayette)
New York City, New York, USA

Exhibition Dates: April 5-19, 2012
Opening Reception: Thursday, April 5, 2012, 7-9pm

Chi Le Ma?

This is an exhibition of works by Nathan Bett, Alison Chen, Colleen Fitzgerald, Sylvia Hardy,
Phoenix Lindsey-Hall, Sharon Ma, Charlie Rubin, Jose Soto, Maria Sprowls, and Yichen Zhou
made during a 2-week experience in China in 2011. The trip coincided with the 11th edition of
the Pingyao International Photography Festival in which the Parsons MFA Photography and
Related Media program participated. With the exception of two artists in the group, none of
the other artists had previously spent any time in the country. These artists grappled with the
unfamiliar culture, politics, sites, natural environments, and architecture of the new landscape.
The majority of the works exist as a record of the attempt to reconcile the unfamiliarity of the
experience, while Yichen Zhou’s work provides poignant commentary on Chinese culture from
the perspective of a native. Sharon Ma transforms the sheer quantity of the journey’s intangible
experiences into the tangible objects of a scroll and functional tablecloth, relating back to the
exhibition’s overriding theme, “Have you eaten?” All of the works approach capturing a sense
of place in a playful manner, and none do this better than the video performance of Phoenix
Lindsey-Hall as she dances in tiger costume upon the Great Wall of China.

Works by Bett, Fitzgerald, Sprowls, Rubin, Chen, and Hardy are hung together in a salonstyle
mural. It is through arranging, framing, ordering, reordering, fragmenting, and connecting
the range of subjects encountered by each individual that a larger dialogue arises. Here the
photographic objects act more as artifacts to bring another part of the world to our doorstep.

“Chi Le Ma?” or “Have you eaten?” is a question often asked by Chinese people as a way of
greeting. It is an informal way to ask of the well being of others, just as we would say “How are
you?” Or, considered in another, perhaps more thoughtful way, the question can mean, “Have
you readied yourself to experience the world, to see what is around you?” In this sense, one can
say that food, more than anything else, is the starting point of the composition, more essential
than one realizes. The artists in this show come together to the proverbial table to share their

Have you eaten?

“We have to walk a long way in the world/to know the truth of certain things/certain laws of blue sunlight/the inherent rumor of pain/the precision of spring.” – Pablo Neruda

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