Chinese-Ness: The Meanings of Identity and the Nature of Belonging
Author Wing Young Huie
Re-framing the conversations around race and identity, a talented photographer offers a prism through which to explore our modern era of cultural uncertainty.
- Format: Hardcover, 160 pages, 100 color photos, 8 x 10 inches
- Publisher: Minnesota HIstorical Society Press (Nov. 1, 2018)
- ISBN: 9781681340425
Is Chinese identity personal, national, cultural, political? Does it migrate, become malleable or transmuted? What is authentic, sacred, kitsch? Using documentary and conceptual photographic strategies, acclaimed photographer Wing Young Huie explores the meaning of Chinese-ness in his home state of Minnesota, throughout the United States, and in China.
Huie, the youngest of six children and the only one born in the United States, grew up in Duluth, Minnesota, where images of pop culture fed, formed, and confused him. At times his own parents seemed foreign and exotic. His visit to China in 2010 compounded the confusion: his American-ness made him as visible there as his Chinese-ness did in Minnesota.
To make sense of his experiences, Huie photographed and interviewed people of Chinese descent and those influenced by Chinese-ness. Their multifaceted perspectives project humor and irony, as well as cultural guilt and uncertainty. In a series of diptychs, Huie wears the clothes of Chinese men whose lives he could have lived, blurring the boundary between photographer and subject.
How does Chinese-ness collide with American-ness? And who gets to define those hyphenated abstract nouns? Part meta-memoir and part actual memoir, Chinese-ness reframes today’s conversations about race and identity.
The "Chinese-ness: Photographs by Wing Young Huie" exhibit opens at the Minnesota Historical Society's Irvine Gallery Tuesday, September 11, 2018 at 7 pm and closes Sunday, November 11, 2018.
Wing Young Huie is a photographer, an author, and the owner of Third Place Gallery in Minneapolis.
Biography of Wing Young Huie from www.wingyounghuie.com/CV:
For over 30 years, celebrated photographer Wing Young Huie has captured the complex cultural realities of American society. His work has been shown in international museums—over half a million people have viewed his traveling exhibit in China—and in Minnesota storefront windows. His most well known works, Lake Street USA and the University Avenue Project, transformed Minneapolis and Saint Paul thoroughfares into six-mile photo galleries, reflecting the everyday lives of thousands of their citizens.
His projects explore a myriad of social issues, including immigration, race, adoption, urban and rural life, dementia, faith, Lutheranism, gender, homelessness, and youth culture. Though much of his work centers on his homeland of Minnesota, his current series Chinese-ness explores experiences of identity in the United States and the Motherland of China, employing documentary and conceptual conceits, and occasionally a chalkboard.
Wing uses photography as a societal mirror and window, seeking to reveal not only what is hidden, but also what is plainly visible and seldom noticed, providing a collective portrait of the them who are really us. As an extension of his public art installations that create informal communal spaces, in spring 2011 Wing opened The Third Place Gallery. Housed in a building that previously sat empty for 47 years,Wing has turned the space into an urban living room for guest artists, social conversation, karaoke, and ping pong.