Artwork: 85 Howe Street April 22, 2020
Artist: Chen Ronghui
Media: Archival pigment print, framed
Price: RMB 17,000
New values of the West and constant yet excessive new information about his surroundings bombard Chen, during what could have been a peaceful two-year student life. Born and raised locally in China, Chen was thrust into an area where nighttime crime cases were high and the Covid-19 pandemic was looming in the backdrop. After a long day at school or at his artist studio, Chen would run back to his rented apartment, praying to be safe from either a crime scene or getting diagnosed with the virus. Upon arriving safely, not bothering to turn on the lights, he would sink into his sofa, out of breath as exhaustion took over. The light of night would seep through his windows where he would lay and observe, enjoying its beauty interlaced with eeriness and fear. Surprisingly, the scenes reminded Chen of his childhood days in rural Zhejiang, beautiful memories contradicting his frame of mind in New Haven. This began as part one of An Ordinary Evening in New Haven.
As Covid-19 cases arose, so did anti-Asian hate crimes. Chen started to receive emails from his school and news of attacks unfolded. Part two slowly took form as streaks of artificial light, signifying actual crime scenes happening in New Haven flooded into his living space. Images created with a projector were cast on everyday objects. These artificial scenes located through Google Maps by Chen found their way as a portrayal of omnipresent fear creeping into his daily life. Shadow and light, rather than representing fear and hope respectively, swap roles while slowly blurring boundaries through part one and part two.
About the Artist
(b.1989) Graduated from Yale MFA of Photography, is a Chinese photographer based in Hangzhou and New York. He has won a number of awards including World Press Photo; BarTur Photo Award; Three Shadows Photography Award & AlPA special prize and Hou Dengke Documentary Photography Award. Chen has exhibited in Les Rencontres d’Arles, OCAT, ICP museum, Format Festival, Photoville, and more. His series Freezing Land has had dedicated reviews in Art in America, The Guardian, New York Times, and FT Magazine. A photobook of the same series published by Jiazazhi was nominated for the 2020 Aperture Foundation & ParisPhoto First Photobook Award.
About the Gallery
Founded in 2009, UP Gallery is Taiwan’s first gallery that solely dedicates in exhibiting photographic and moving image works. Yichia Liao the founder of the gallery, also an artist/photographer foresaw the possibility of photography in the world of contemporary art. The need for an unconventional space and a platform for exposure of photographic art in Taiwan were crucial among his visions, which lead to the establishment of the physical gallery space that is now located in Hsinchu, Taiwan.