Self-Portrait in the Kitchen, 2009, ¬© Jane Tam
Turning the camera on myself is quite a¬† challenge since it’s a struggle to show the meaning of the photograph, as well as transform into a performer. I’ve been working on a few self-portraits here and there, not really sure where it’s going but sort of excited with the experimentation. I’m a very self conscious person. It could be due to my mother’s constant nagging and her refusal to have her kids shame her or the family.
This photograph, from my parents’ kitchen, was a test shot among over 100 tests. It’s aesthetically very different from the rest of my photographs on my website and certainly exudes very different emotions. Here’s hoping to working it out.
Tam Family Portrait, 1970s ¬© Jane Tam
It’s almost been a month since my grandmother’s passing. This Sunday the family will be making a trip to Cypress Hills Cemetary in Brooklyn to do our offerings for her one month death anniversary. It’s a bit odd and it still feels like she hasn’t left us at all. But one thing my family has noticed is that emotions hit you when you least expect it like the times when we’re making fun of her antics at Atlantic City, of how she yells at my grandfather, how she’d ask if you ate dinner yet 3 times in a row, and all her other little sayings.
Eldest Aunt with her friends, ¬© Jane Tam
What makes me sad is a bit selfish but I had so many plans for this summer to spend with her. She was certainly the easiest person I know in my family who can connect with my camera so quickly. I always look back into the few sessions I had with her as some of the strongest images. When I looked back at these photographs of her, I had wished I found photography earlier to photograph my other grandmother, who passed when I was 13.
Nelson Chan (whose work on his family inspires me as well) wrote me a sincere email telling me the story of his best friend feeling jealousy over his family images, after realizing he himself did not photograph his father who passed. Nelson did not realize what the feeling of jealousy was for his photographs until he told me he felt jealousy over my photographs of my grandmother.
Hong Kong, ¬© Jane Tam
I have not photographed for 3 months now and since receiving Nelson’s personal email, I am ready to pull through. My grandfather is now looking into learning how to surf the internet, maybe swimming, just got back from Las Vegas, and is planning to go to Hong Kong in the fall. To get through the grieving, you have to connect with the pain to keep going. I’m planning to follow my grandfather to China and experience how he now lives his life without his love. It might happen and it might not, depends on his plans and depends on my financials. But China aside, I shall continue to shoot and make the best out of this summer.
Grandmother at Fort Greene Park, 2007, ¬© Jane Tam
My grandparents on my father’s side of the family were the people who brought so many of my family members from Hong Kong to America in the 1970s and after. My grandmother used most of her savings to immigrate to the states. She helped my mother’s side of the family immigrate to the states in the late 80s and 90s as well. It’s amazing how the Tam family as well as the Yeung family are so indebted to this one woman. My grandmother had a slew of medical problems in the past but somehow her fighting power was always strong and she fought it like a tiger. She traveled to many countries with my grandfather, went parasailing, took photographs and pet a live tiger, went gambling every weekend or day at Atlantic City, and talked back to anybody in her way. She was a stubborn lady with quite a temper but she always knew to treat her grandchildren differently, like many grandparents.
As I’ve written in a few posts before, I’ve been busy with a lot of family issues and it was mainly the fact that in these past two months, I’ve been in and out of the hospital with many family members. We have a large family and even with family politics, we are all very filial and respectful. I can’t say I was particularly close with my Grandmother growing up but in the past 2-3 years of photographing her every few months, I started to develop a bond. It’s sad to realize that our relationship was so short but as least I have a few memories to hold on to. My grandmother passed away last Friday with her whole family by her side. She went peacefully and we all know she’s lived a vibrant and great life. She can now gamble all she wants wherever she may be.
It’s hard to maintain a professional blog without being personal especially since I am very attached to my family project. With all the sorrow and sadness of our loss, I am also happy to invite you all to the Nymphoto shows, one of which opens this Wednesday. Funny how life works; such polar opposites of emotions.
Nymphoto Presents @ Sasha Wolf
A group show exhibiting compelling collection of work by contemporary women photographers from across the globe. While diverse in content, these works convey the complexity of the female gaze ‚Äì the woman behind the camera. The photographs ignite a spirit by addressing a diversity of issues, which inevitably calls into question: what is feminine.
The exhibit features work by:
Jennifer Boomer, Nina B√ºsing Corvallo, Rona Chang, Livia Corona, Katrina d’Autremont, Jen Davis, Lizzie Gorfaine, Candace Gottschalk, Victoria Hely-Hutchinson, Megan Maloy, Tiana Markova-Gold, Debora Mittelstaedt, Maria Passarotti, Alex Prager, Beatrix Reinhardt, Anna Skladmann, Jane Tam, Malou van Breevoort, Corinne Vionnet, Sophia Wallace, & Susan Worsham
Exhibition opens May 23rd through June 6, 2009.
Please join us for the artist reception May 28, 2009 6-8 p.m. at Sasha Wolf Gallery in New York.
*Psst: We also have an opening reception and book launch on May 6, 2009 at Sasha Wolf Gallery for Nymphoto: Conversations Volume I.
Traceryscape, ¬© Aki Lumi
I came across Japanese born (Paris based) artist, Aki Lumi, via Lens Culture a couple of weeks ago. I have felt a bit over saturated with straight photography from the blogs, the submissions, and work. It is so refreshing to see photography transformed and used in a different way. Lumi’s images remind me of how I first grew interest in art and it was through drawing and collage. I use to cut family photographs and make collages thinking it was a good idea, before my mother found out and scolded me.¬†
I’m sorry I have not been following up with the blog and writing my usual personal banter. I’ve been feeling a bit censored photographically since my grandmother has been battling a stroke and other illnesses in the hospital. Like Richard Renaldi, I wanted to photograph her struggle but also am faced with family politics and emotional disagreement to do so. Besides wearing the hat of an artist, I am first a granddaughter and a translator for my grandfather and relatives between them and doctors. My cousins and I are often put into the translator position and it is always a struggle of he said she said.
The difference between Nymphoto and some other collectives is that we are a close knit community of just a few members. (Our meetings run hours long.. food keeps us sane.) We strive to keep each other motivated and it’s especially valuable to me since I was fresh out of college when I was asked to join. Although we are committed to promote women working in photography and creating a voice for them, we are mostly artists too. We have work that wants to be shown and recognized.We have full time jobs but are motivated to keep our goals and intentions going strong.
I’m pleased to announce Nymphoto’s newest projects.
We’re publishing our first book! The Conversations in book form! Also, we are happy to collaborate with gallery owner and director, Sasha Wolf, to put on a physical exhibition coinciding with the book. The title of the book and show is simple called,”Nymphoto: Conversations Volume I.” Join us on May 6, 2009 at the gallery for our book launch and opening reception.
Ladies! We’re also doing a Call for Entries for an group exhibition following the book launch exhibition. Deadline is April 7th. Please go to www.nymphoto.com for details and to submit. We’re looking for the best in contemporary photography by women so please pass the word on.
Fan, Laos, 2007, ¬© Jane Tam
Sorry for the lack of words, I can’t seem to formulate much to say lately due to other things. There’s some big news in the future and I can’t wait to share that with you all.
There’s only 10 days left to Daniel Cooney’s Emerging Photographers Auction. Please take a look at the work and consider making a purchase. One of mine is up for bid too!