Friday, February 18, 2011

Meet Ferit Kuyas at 291 Gallery in San Francisco

Ferit Kuyas’ new exhibition ‘City of Ambition’ at the 291 Gallery in San Francisco (291 Geary Street) runs until April 23rd. That should leave enough time for everyone interested to visit it. And believe me, it’s worth it!

Ferit Kuyas was born in Istanbul, Turkey in 1955. He studied architecture and law in Zurich, Switzerland and graduated from the University of Zurich in 1982. Working mainly on personal projects, he published several books. His photographs have been shown in museums, galleries and festivals around the world.
I had the chance and great pleasure to meet Ferit Kuyas at the gallery for an open conversation about his work and experiences in creating this body of work about the riverbank of the Changjiang River in China.
His work directly reminded me of Nadav Kander’s series on China (read my post from Feb. 4th). And in fact I was right, the Changjiang River is also called the Yangtze River and some of their images have been shot at the exact same locations! They don’t know each other, even if they met once at a photography show, so no one has really influenced the other but Ferit Kuyas completely acknowledges the similarities of their work. The way they decided to photograph the Yantze river is very similar as they are both presenting landscapes of a quickly evolving China. But While Nadav Kander shows ‘humans dwarfed by their surroundings’, Ferit Kuyas focuses on the landscapes, the fog, construction sites. The human presence is tangible but in a very subtle way.
The main difference might also come from the fact that one is an outsider depicting the smallness of the people in this gigantic environment, while the other is personally connected to the place. Ferit Kuyas’ family in law lives in Chongqing. With his photographs he shows us the pride of the inhabitants, and captures their relationship with their city while very rarely depicting them.
The exhibition at 291 Gallery presents a selection of 20 large 4x5 photographs of the ‘City of Ambition’ project. The pictures depict a moody and enigmatic city with its buildings, unfinished development projects and living spaces. They all have a mysterious dreamy power that surrounds you and takes your breath.

 ‘I am mainly interested in the outskirts of Chongqing, where the city can’t be really seen but sensed, like a tiger moving through the jungle – invisible, yet there.’

Changjiang River. Beibin Road. Chongqing, China 2005

Jialing River. Huanghuayuan Bridge. Chongqing, China 2005

Jialingjiang Rivershore Drive. Jialing River. Chongqing, China 2005

Caiyuan Bridge. Changjiang River. Chongqing, China 2007

Restaurant Boats. Changjiang River. Chongqing, China 2005

Restaurant Boat. Egongyan Bridge. Chongqing, China 2008
Learn more on Ferit Kuyas:
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