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NYC: Yang YI - UPROOTED     May 2 - Jun 8, 2013

Uprooted #11 Old Town of Kaixian: East River Bank
Yang Yi
Uprooted #11 Old Town of Kaixian: East River Bank, 2007
 
Uprooted #12 Old Town of Kaixian: Dormitory on Ring Road
Yang Yi
Uprooted #12 Old Town of Kaixian: Dormitory on Ring Road, 2007
 
Uprooted #13 Old Town of Kaixian: East River Bridge
Yang Yi
Uprooted #13 Old Town of Kaixian: East River Bridge, 2007
 
Uprooted #14 Old Town of Kaixian: South River
Yang Yi
Uprooted #14 Old Town of Kaixian: South River, 2007
 
Uprooted #24 Old Town of Kaixian: Xinsheng Street
Yang Yi
Uprooted #24 Old Town of Kaixian: Xinsheng Street, 2007
 
 
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Galerie Richard is pleased to present the New York debut solo exhibition of Chinese photographer Yang Yi (b. 1971). Yang Yi was born in Kaixian, a small town overlooking a tributary of the Yangtze River. In 2009 Yi’s hometown was completely submerged underwater due to the Tree Gorges Dam Project, which displaced over 1.2 million people and destroyed 11 cities. Using photography with digital editing techniques, Yang Yi creates strikingly truthful portrayals of Kaixan and its inhabitants in a submarine universe. The “Uprooted” exhibition opens on Thursday, April 25th with a public reception from 6 to 8pm.

Upon first view of Yi’s photographs, one’s eyes first adapt to the photographs’ darkness with a sepia rendering. You see a mysterious landscape with few people, adorned in masks and snorkels. The light comes from the upper part of the photographs, expanding into shadows on the walls of a submarine city. These disconcerting images question the viewer in a manner similar to Gregory Crewdson’s photographs.

Yang Yi’s digital manipulations of the photographic medium are particularly relevant because they are deeply connected with his personal life. His work raises the question, how can one build one’s life when one’s home, roots, and childhood memories have been lost forever? Yang Yi replies by recreating the past in capturing the remaining scenery before it disappears forever. Even after the artist transformed the image by submerging the landscape, the villagers still display wit and poise.

"It is about all that we have in common there: our accent, our spicy coriander, the nod we give each other, a friendly signal to say hello when we pass one another on the street, these streets that we have traveled alongside our ancestors, that have herded us along together... this series was created for all of that. It will be my personal memoir."
-Yang Yi

Yang Yi captures and preserves the nuances that once distinguished this beloved village as an expression of defiance to imposed plight and destitution. Inspired by dreams, the visual documentation opposes the physical reality of the expropriated site. The confrontation between the past and present transforms the topology of the landscape into a place of curiosity and apprehension. Yang Yi’s series records a haunting legacy that proves the fortitude of the human spirit.

The Uprooted Series has been recently exhibited at the Katonah Museum of Art, New York in the exhibition “Rising Dragon –Contemporary Chinese Photography” in 2012. Yang Yi has exhibited throughout Asia, Europe, Canada and Mexico. His photography has been in museums in both Italy and San Jose, California and is included in international collections. Yi currently lives and works in Chengdu China.

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