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Available April 2014
Substructureby Cindy Hwang
Synopses & Reviews
In stark, black and white images, artist CYJO documents fifty Chinese migrants, photographing only the subjects' hands to reveal, paradoxically, the collective identity and anonymity of these marginalized workers. Through the migrants' personal histories—recorded by the artist—we learn about the dire circumstances that forced them from their villages in search of work and, ultimately, survival.
Since China's economic boom three decades ago, rapid urbanization has spurred internal migration from the countryside to cities, creating an impoverished labor force that faces unfair working conditions, limited access to education, and poor health care. Through faceless portraits, CYJO conveys the indignity experienced by the laborers; it is only the unique texture of each subject's hands that provides identification, and acts as physical evidence of harsh working and living conditions. Substructure was created in collaboration with Compassion for Migrant Children, a nonprofit organization that helps China's urban migrant children through social and educational programs.
CYJO (Cindy Hwang) has exhibited her work nationally and internationally at the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery, Washington, DC; T. Art Center, Beijing, China; and The Korea Society, New York. Her work has been featured in numerous publications and broadcasts including The New York Times, Smithsonian magazine, and The Wall Street Journal, among others. Her first book, Kyopo, was published by Umbrage Editions in 2011.
Jonathan Hursh is the founder of Compassion for Migrant Children, which benefits children of urban migrant workers and their communities in China through social and educational programs.
Sean Mooney has worked as an educator, designer, curator, museum administrator, and visual artist. In 2000 he co-founded SMAK Projects, a New York-based exhibitions consultancy that produces museum exhibitions worldwide.
Detailed portraits of Chinese migrant workers' hands and revealing interviews juxtapose notions of anonymous and personal in migrant life.
About the Author
Cindy Hwang: CYJO, born 1974 in Seoul, is a Korean American who immigrated to the US in 1976, one of the 2.3 million Korean Americans here. Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally at the Smithsonians National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C.; T. Art Center, Beijing; and The Korea Society, New York. Her work has been featured in numerous publications and broadcasts including A+A Magazine, ELLE Korea, Eloquence Magazine, Global Times, La Lettre De La Photographie, The New York Times, Vision Magazine, CBS News, and PBS Sunday Arts News. She has lectured at The KACC, The 3rd Asian American Conference, The Korea Society, Miami University, The New York Life Company, NYU APA, Overseas Korean Foundation and The Rubin Museum of Art. Her first book, KYOPO, was published by Umbrage Editions in 2011.
Jonathan Hursh: Jonathan Hursh is the founder of Compassion for Migrant Children, which benefits children of migrant workers and their communities in China through social and educational programs. CMC, with over thirty-five staff members and four thousand volunteers, regularly serves over two thousand migrants through their community centers, which provide life-vocational skills training for migrant youth, after school programs, teacher training, and family workshops. The Communities of Promise Network was subsequently developed to help others open community centers in migrant slums across Asia. In 2008, Jonathan also launched a sister organization, the Migrant Resource Network, to assist in building collaborative movement among organizations serving migrants in China. In 2011, CMC partnered with a foundation of the Ministry of Civil Affairs to launch a fund in China to support its work with the migrant communities. Jonathan has a B.A. in International Relations with an Asian emphasis where he studied Chinese modern history, Chinese philosophy, and religions. He has past experience in the United States with homeless centers, inner city after-school programs, as well as with leading humanitarian teams to Southeast Asia.
Sean Mooney: Sean Mooney has worked as an educator, designer, curator, museum administrator and visual artist. In 2000 he co-founded SMAK Projects, a New York-based exhibitions consultancy that organizes and produces museum exhibitions worldwide. He is formerly Director of Exhibition Design at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, with responsibility to oversee the planning and implementation of exhibitions in Bilbao, Berlin, and other international venues. Sean was previously Assistant Chairman of the MFA program at the School of Visual Arts in New York and Assistant Gallery Manager at the M.I.T. List Visual Arts Center, Cambridge, Massachusetts. He has designed, managed or consulted on over 200 exhibitions internationally, and has taught art history and studio courses at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and performed regularly as a vocalist with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Juilliard Choral Union. He has lectured for museum studies programs at New York University, City College New York, Fashion Institute of Technology, Parsons School of Design and Fundación PROA, Buenos Aires, Argentina.
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