Interior Lives

Photographs of Chinese Americans by Thomas Holton and Chien-Chi Chang

October 26, 2018 - March 24, 2019

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Two photographers explore New York City's Chinese immigrant neighborhoods.

New York City’s nine predominantly Chinese neighborhoods are home to the largest ethnic Chinese population outside of Asia. Interior Lives features the work of two photographers who have spent decades documenting life in Manhattan’s Chinese enclaves: Chien-Chi Chang and Thomas Holton.

Since 1996, Chang has photographed the “invisible immigrants” who labor in restaurants and garment factories in order to support the families they left behind. Using still photography as well as video, he captures the harsh working and living conditions of the New York immigrants, as well as the lives of their relatives in China, who they sometimes do not see for decades. Thomas Holton has followed the trajectory of a single family, the Lams of Ludlow Street, since 2003. Starting as a family of five in a 350-square-foot apartment, the family has changed over the past 15 years, with the growth of the children into teens and the eventual separation of their parents. Together, the works of these two photographers provide a window into the complex realities of immigrant life in New York City.

This exhibition is organized by the Museum of the City of New York in conjunction with the Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA) exhibition Interior Lives: Photographs of Chinese Americans by Bud Glick.

(Left) Chien-Chi Chang, "Employment Agency, New York's Chinatown," 1998. © Chien-Chi Chang and Magnum Photos. (Right) Thomas Holton, "Family Portrait," 2004. Courtesy of the artist.

Made possible in part by the Taipei Cultural Center of TECO in New York.

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