Art & Development, Travelogue

Dinu Li at the Manchester Art Gallery

Yesterday, I attended the lecture by Mancunian photographer and video artist Dinu Li, whose photographic series, Press the * and Say Hello, are on view in the Manchester Art Gallery. I also saw these works commissioned by Autograph ABP in the inaugural show at INIVA during my visit to London one and a half years ago, and I thought it was a great body of work. The photos are documentary-style portraits of immigrants talking on the phone in call centers, and it captures a wide diversity of the people from around the world who find themselves in the UK.

My jetlag hit me hard yesterday, but Dinu’s talk was very compelling nonetheless. I was surprised to hear him speak at length about a primary inspiration of his: a painting by Vermeer. It really contextualized his interests nicely—the duality of light and dark and ambivalence between internal reality vs. external world. You can see these principles played out in his works, which started out with a documentary look (he was a commercial photographer in advertising before becoming an artist) and has recently become more cinematic and poetic.

The Manchester Art Gallery (really a mid-sized museum, with many permanent works from the collections) is always free — and I think it really makes a difference that visitors can come and go as they please. In the states, monthly free days at museums are madhouses.

Other unsolicited opinions:

YAY:, a great audio portrait in 10 episodes. Nicely produced, hosted by John Robb, a soothingly-voiced local punk rock impresario. Beautiful web design to boot!.

The Chinese Art Centre kitchen has an electric grill. I’ve always wanted one but could never justify it. Cheese toasties, here I come!

Detail of an amusement attraction at the Chinese New Year Festival in Manchester.

Detail of an amusement attraction at the Chinese New Year Festival in Manchester.

The City of Manchester has no curbside recycling program. What!? For all of Manchester’s innovation in industry, science (the first atom was split in Manchester!) and music… no recycling?


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