Looking Toward 'Nam

Exhibit curators are an underappreciated group of people. We know going into an art gallery or a museum that the artists are responsible for what we see around us, but I think we often forget that the curators are responsible for how we see it. And honestly, the context of an exhibition completely influences the way we see it, what it says to us and how it affects us. I think the curator of the current Photographs Do Not Bend show should be recognized for the context in which we consider Wu Jialin's Homeland and Don Schol's Vietnam Remembrances and the affecting contrast that the joint exhibitions offer. Jialin's photographs offer a view of the sparsely populated and undeveloped region of China in which he grew up. His photographs documenting the Yunnan Province, which borders Vietnam, give us a glimpse into a quaint region, untouched by modernity but awaiting the day when industry creeps into the borders and turns it into a part of the relentless global economic landscape. Schol's work, by distinction, captures his time in Vietnam and records the visceral experiences of those who experienced the landscapes and dealt with the population in combat situations. Schol's woodblock prints are devoid of the native pride that colors Jialin's photographs, but provide an excellent study of the Southeastern Asian experience and make a fascinating and visually stimulating counterpoint. Consider these exhibits together at Photographs Do Not Bend Gallery, 1202 Dragon St., through June 20. Gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. Visit pdnbgallery.com.
Tuesdays-Saturdays, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Starts: May 26. Continues through June 20, 2009