May 18, 2007

Pigs' Heads at a Street Market, Chungking, China

Pigs' Heads at a Street Market, Chungking, China


Leo Rubinfien

(American, b. 1953)

Chromogenic process color print

Image: 49.2 x 60 cm (19 3/8 x 23 5/8 in.); Paper: 49.5 x 60.5 cm (19 1/2 x 23 13/16 in.); Matted: 71.1 x 81.3 cm (28 x 32 in.)

Gift of Cynthia N. Mayer in memory of Estelle Johnson 1994.290

Impression: 2



Between 1979 and 1988, Leo Rubinfien, an American who lived in Japan during his youth, created a body of color photographs that resulted from his extensive travels in Japan, China, Thailand, Indonesia, Burma, India, Vietnam, and the Philippines. With a sensitive and inquisitive eye, he recorded the ways that these deeply traditional Asian cultures are adapting to a global economy. Though indebted to a long tradition of travel photography, his work resists the stereotypes of that genre. The disquieting image of pigs’ heads and carcasses for sale at a street market seems doubly gory because of the richness of Rubinfien’s color print. The artist captured the ambivalence of an Asian nation that is increasingly participating in international markets, but whose traditions retain an undeniable otherness.

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