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"Habitat 7"
Courtesy of Julie Saul Gallery, NY

08.08. – 14.09.2008

Curated by Malin Barth

Stiftelsen 3,14 shows Jeff Chien-Hsing Liao's thoughtful and evocative large-format panoramic images from the area along the # 7 IRT train line between Manhattan and Queens in New York.
The nickname for the number 7 train has long been known as "The International Express" because of the myriad nationalities that have helped shape hybrid local communities along this train route. Today, the neighborhoods along this train route are considered the world's most complex, with populations from all over the world and one of New York's most important inland lines. It has created development opportunities for individuals, but also stands for unparalleled diversity to inspire creative ideas that include both economic and cultural exchanges. IRT # 7 is like the fertile river valleys that have always been sought after and have provided the foundation for our great world civilizations. Incorporated in these panoramas over a New York area, viewers are invited to consider the way our modern societies design and develop around man-made river banks. Liao himself traveled with IRT # / 7 for more than seven years before embarking on Habitat 7. The artist expresses himself: ”I am still constantly awed by the complexity of the communities formed alongside it as well as the harmonious co-existence of so many people of distinct ethnic back grounds are able to live in. I’ve come to see the 7 Train as a habitat of these immigrant settlers who pursue the typical “American Dream” while upholding their ethnic traditions.”

In cooperation with Julie Saul Gallery, NY.

Opening speech by Bergen Internasjonale Kultursenter (BIKS)



Jeff Chien-Hsing Liao (b.1977) is a Taiwanese-born photographer now based in New York City. Liao immigrated to Vancouver from Taiwan when he was 18, eventually making his way to New York to study art and photography at Pratt Institute and The School of Visual Arts. After building a body of work, Liao submitted his portfolio to the New York Times and won the 2nd Annual “Capture the Times” photography contest this past December. His evocative large-scale panoramic views of life in Queens are presented at the QMA in Jeff Chien-Hsing Liao: Habitat 7, his first solo museum exhibition. His first monograph, HABITAT 7, will be published by Nazraeli Press in 2007 and features an essay by Anne Tucker.

- Liao does not work with a panoramic camera, but takes a number of photos from the same locality through a whole day with an analog large format camera, which he then puts together fragments with digital joints. About his technique, he says that through that combination he best conveys a richest picture atmosphere while presenting an overview and detail picture. All in one piece.

Liao’s photographic eye has been influenced by the seminal work of German photographers Bernd and Hilla Becher and their protégé Andreas Gursky. Liao works with a large format camera that can produce an 8 x 10 negative. Many shots of a single scene over a period of time are then grafted together with digital technology. “By joining the pieces together in post-production,” Liao says, “I can best represent the atmosphere of time and give both panoramic and detailed representation of the environment.” With these cinematic photographs, Liao is “interested in observing how people uphold their ethnic traditions while pursuing the typical American dream.”

With text by Anne Tucker in the fall of 2006.

“Four of the earliest major civilizations were formed in river valleys. The fertile lands pro-vided surpluses of food that allowed for the growth of populations, development of cities, and thus civilizations were created.

Though we now live in an industrial and technological era, where the survival of our ex-istence no longer simply depends on the availability of food, the pattern of our quest for living space still resembles that of the ancient river valley civilizations. Such is the prem-ise of the 7 Train, the seven-mile-long subway line that connects New York City´s Times Square with seven communities in northwest Queens, the most ethnically diverse county in the country.

On a smaller but equally complex scale, some of the distinctive characteristics of a civi-lization — an intricate and highly organized society with the development of elaborate forms of economic exchange, as well as the establishment of sophisticated, formal social institutions such as organized religion, education, and the arts — are evident in the com-munities that have developed along the tracks of the 7 Train.

While I´ve been living along these tracks for years, I am still constantly awed by the com-plexity of the communities formed alongside it as well as the harmony so many people of distinct backgrounds are able to live in. I set out to photograph the ´habitat´ of the 7 Train as I came to see it, with a focus on not the individual but the people as a whole, as well as their relationship with their environment.”

- Jeff Chien-Hsing Liao





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