Explore China in this new photography exhibition
“What I saw in China, and how I saw it, is what you see here.” These words greet all who enter The Warehouse’s latest exhibit, “CHINA: Then & Now – Jan Serr,” which runs through December 29 (1635 W. St. Paul Ave., thewarehousemke.org). Showcasing 64 photographs taken by Serr, the gallery embarks on a journey that seemingly transcends time – showing the country’s ancient yet enduring traditions juxtaposed against modern skyscrapers riddled with bustling highways.
Structured like a walk down a city street, thanks to movable barriers that create a labyrinthine path, visitors have the opportunity to walk as Serr did through the streets of the hutong district of China’s “old town”, where residents are depicted in the midst of their daily lives in large archival prints of Serr’s photography. There is a sense of timelessness – that the people photographed live their day as they always have, remaining oblivious to any push that moves them to modernity.
In the middle of the exhibit is a large Moon Gate – a circular opening in the Scholar’s Garden, a place where visitors can rest after their walk down the “street”. Here, travelers will see photographs of streams and mountains, accented by the bubbling sounds of a real fountain in the exhibit. It prompts us to slow down and take it all in.
Through Serr’s lens, we see a small slice of everyday life in China, and with the layout of The Warehouse, a chance to navigate it as well. It’s a powerful reminder not only of the passage of time, but of the humanity of the world – there is familiarity in the friendly smiles and mom-and-pop ventures portrayed in these photographs of a foreign land.