Village Works: Photographs by Women in China's Yunnan Province
Village Works is an exhibition of a photo project documenting life in a remote Chinese province, with photos taken by local women. Designing the show meant dealing with issues of how to appropriately show the photos in the context of an art museum. Sealing them off in frames would signify them as art and possibly obscure their immediacy. Also, there were no original prints to show; the photos had been scanned and existed digitally.
To present the work, the photos were digitally output on paper or silk and stretched and hung on plywood and steel kiosks. Staying away from classic images of village life such as pagodas, the designers used the forms of written Chinese characters to suggest cultural context. The kiosks were arranged to invoke the clustering in a village marketplace or town center. From certain angles the kiosks read as specific Chinese characters; for instance, the central kiosk forms the character for "woman." Others are more suggestive and only readable from above.
"The jury appreciated the uncluttered design approach in the creation of this exhibit environment. The texture of the materials used, the variety of scale in the graphic elements and the simplicity of the kiosk structures allow the photographs an appropriate context where they can "speak" on their own terms. Although not immediately noticeable in the photos, printing the images on silk adds a subtle texture that fits the subject matter."
J. Abbott Miller (Principal in Charge), James Hicks, Jeremy Hoffman