Photos depict 'Chinese Brady Brunch' living the American dream

Updated: 2013-05-13 16:16

By Kelly Chung Dawson (China Daily)

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"And this family in particular appears so well-adjusted and happy, that they're almost a Chinese Brady Brunch," he adds with a laugh.

Sandra Phillips, the curator of photography at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, which initially acquired Jang's family series, describes the work as both modest and profound.

"The subject matter is not one of earth-shaking ambition, but the photos are wild and incredibly unique, and an expression of a sensibility that is informed by his heritage," Phillips says.

"The Chinese-American middle-class culture is relatively unknown to the rest of the world, but these photos are not primarily sociological in focus. They're interesting because, on top of that, they're also forgiving and loving and imaginative."

Wirtz compares Jang's photographs to those of the renowned street photographer Garry Winogrand, whose work is coincidentally on exhibition at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Winogrand's work is noted for its informal snapshot-style documentation of everyday life.

But seeing the two exhibitions in tandem also makes their differences apparent, Wirtz says. While Winogrand focused on the expression of a certain alienation of the times, Jang's work is a celebration of human connection, he says.

Jang hopes that his photos will prove important for their documentation of the Chinese-American experience. He expects to release more photos in the next few years, he reveals.

"I want people to see that no matter what land our ancestors originally came from, we are here now and we're Americans," he says.

Although his family has naturally become a little less Chinese with each generation, he has always been conscious of his heritage, he says. That link is most evident in his lifelong study of tai chi. He spent a year in his 20s studying the art in Taiwan.

"The philosophy and practice of tai chi makes me feel deeply connected to Chinese culture," he says.

The Jangs exhibition runs until July 13.

Photos depict 'Chinese Brady Brunch' living the American dream

Photos depict 'Chinese Brady Brunch' living the American dream

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