Life in a Box
Hanart TZ Gallery
Lois Conner began her artistic life as an illustrator and painter. But 'as far back as I can remember, photography has always been an important part of my life. My earliest memories were of my father photographing our family,' she says. And when she was just nine years old, 'my father gave me a double lens reflex camera, taught me how to develop film and make prints'.
For some years now, the 59-year-old American's camera of choice has been a large (18cm x 43cm) panoramic camera that sits on a tripod. 'The larger-format cameras allow for an extraordinary level of description,' she says. 'The fact that it must rest on the tripod gives me permission to pause, to observe with more care, the world that is laid out in front of me.' For her solo show at Hanart TZ Gallery, Life in a Box, Conner focuses on box-like fabricated spaces where a quarter of the world's working population spends at least eight hours a day.
'Inspired by the man-made landscape of New York, and one office in particular, I began the office project several years ago,' she says. 'I thought that photographing in offices would offer an opportunity to look at the landscape differently, more abstractly.'
Her black-and-white photographs in this series also include those of offices in this part of the world. 'There are many buildings in Hong Kong that I'm obsessed with, among them are the Bank of China and the building with holes [Jardine House],' she says.
Life in a Box includes a photograph taken inside the office (above) of Sir David Tang Wing-cheung.
'His office is crammed with a collection of things, all of them interesting: books, art, pictures, furniture, knick-knacks. There is even a large model train,' the artist says. The space was so crowded that 'it took a while to find a place to put my tripod. Then I had to move boxes and chairs here and there to be able to stand in the right place. It was like being in the middle of an exotic landscape', Conner says.
'[Tang's] office was far different than anything I could have imagined.'
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