The first exhibition we visited at Aperture Foundation was “The Chinese Photobook”. The wide variety of photobook publications is organized chronologically, beginning with post-World War II era works up to the present. At that time the style of photo-book was limited. Many of the earlier Chinese photobooks were used in political propaganda magazines and posters for Chinese Communism as well as posters promoting the virtues of industriousness. Many of the photos were edited and printed in vivid colors to give views positive images of their political and industrial policy. Later works on display from the modern era use a wider variety of artistic or journalistic styles. As freedom of photo publishing has gained ground, the subjects have been more diverse and sometime more personal. Through looking the passage of photobook in China, I see a part of histories and culture of the country.
Jimmy Nelson’s photo exhibition features photos of several different native tribes in the world. His works were overwhelmingly powerful and those subjects look resolute and strong; however, at the same time, the images are also peaceful and calm. Some of those were medium shot, some were wide/long shot with beautiful nature as a background, and a few were close up. Their native costumes and body/face paints symbolized their pride and dignity, and those were very interesting to look at. However, what fascinated me the most was their expression, especially their eyes. I felt those eyes spoke of their pride. It was innocent and strong. Most of the medium and close up shots use shallow depth of field, focusing on the subjects’ faces. The wide and long shots use deep depth of field showing the subjects in the context of their environment. Their posing and attitude are also represent their poise.
The last exhibition we visited was “Public Eye” at the NYPL. There were all kinds of style and media of photography through this 175 years in the U.S. There were landscape, portrait, aerial photo, commercial photo, street photo for publication purpose to private memories.
I was especially liked the collection of black and white printed photographs of pastoral landscape in America around 1930-40, such as Walker Evans’s works. Those works captures the beauty in people’s everyday life. Those works has documentary style but at the same time it was poetic. I think the uses of natural lights made those photos make dramatic, even though that subjects were clippings of their ordinary life.