Visual ArtCurrently Hanging: Street Vs. Satellite Views by an Artist Relocated from China to Seattle
by Jen Graves
on Wed, Feb 12, 2014 at 11:00 AM
All works courtesy of the artist
You can see Jueqian Fang's photographs at Gallery 110. If I weren't an inhabitant of Seattle, I'd think that the artist, who goes by the name "Ripple," had digitally applied to this photograph a screen of sickly gray-green light. She could have. But I know that light well. Seattle often looks like another planet.
Pictures like that are cropped to flatten the world and increase the pressure inside the frame. They're closeup cousins of scenes by the New Topographics photographers of the 1970s American landscape, whose work was deadpan, un-glorifying, the anti-Ansel Adams—but still admiring in their way. Several photographers have worked in this vein in the Northwest in recent years (Adam Satushek, for one), and I've enjoyed their counterpoint to the pretty landscape photography so easy to come by in this pretty place.
To find out more about Jueqian Fang, I went to her web site, where I discovered this bio: "Jueqian Fang, go by Ripple. grew up in a magic realist country. now studying photomedia and comparative literature cinema studies at University of Washington."
The magic realist country was urban China at the close of the 20th century. Ripple made a video of it from afar, called "But there is no google map street view in my hometown." In the video, she narrates her memories of ancient temples, tiny cockroaches, and middle school while she scrolls across Google's satellite view of the city. It feels novelistic, and she closes with the story that her father's land was taken by the government, and turned into a contemporary sculpture garden. When she refers to a famous living artist and a famous dead poet at the end, she's referring to Ai Weiwei, international celebrity, and Ai Qing, who wrote a poem she recalls reciting in school, "I Love This Land."
In installation, this video plays on a 13-inch TV. Ripple asked me to point out the detail about the 13-inch TV if I shared the video.