Autumn Lyn

Exhibition Dates: 2020.3.12 - 4.12
"I had been carrying around a magnifying glass in my purse for more than a year. I still don’t know why I kept moving it from one purse to another, taking it with me everywhere like a newborn baby, because I did nothing with it. The journey started when one day I complained to my dear friend Alex that I did not like the thumbnail photo on his WeChat profile; he is such a beautiful man but he had this really inappropriate look on his face. So, there we were at the Bund taking photos like two grown-up kids posing for a modeling competition. Towards the end of our session, I randomly took out the magnifying glass that had been quietly sitting at the bottom of my purse. I thought it would be cool to get a shot of his eye through the glass with Pudong in the background. Alex jokingly commented, 'Why do I have the feeling that my photo is going to be on a wall of a gallery somewhere?' 'Maybe.' I chirped back. And with all the photos we took that day, I kept staring at the one with the looking glass. I knew there was something special there, but could not put it into words yet. For the next couple of months, for no reason other than fun, I continued to shoot the eyes of friends through the looking glass. I enjoyed seeing everyone’s eyes up close, got to know them anew, and felt the sense of ‘I SEE YOU.’ I often was surprised by those eyes. The way they seem to communicate: the sadness, the shyness, the warmness, the seriousness, the spark, the love, the power, the kindness… there were times that photos were taken within seconds of the same person, and yet the eyes could change instantly. I could not help but be amazed at the complexities of the shifts, and the complications of who we are as humans."

In 2019, Autumn Lyn began a project to interview people she knew and people she encountered serendipitously. She asked a single question, “What are you seeking?” Without intending any specific response, she was answered with ideas and language that shows the diversity of thoughts and dreams of people across the world. The selection of photographs and quotations presented is just a handful of an ever-growing library that in less than a year includes over 250 people. Respondents vary in age, background, livelihood, and origin, and each response is more than a reflection of particular parameters; some people long for belonging, others simply want something sweet. And by using a looking glass to magnify the eyes, the artist creates a graceful circular metaphor for peering inward. 

There is also a discussion about dignity embedded in these pieces. First is the act of revealing a desire to an unknown audience: a woman recording with an iPhone, and anyone beyond. Speaking your desires aloud makes them real and is the foundation for responsibility. Second is an act by the audience. By engaging with these pieces, we confirm their validity that they are seeking some truth in life and doing so uniquely is valid. It is clear that each person here is an individual, but when placed together we can see how human purpose and meaning are refracted and magnified through life. In turn, the exhibition validates what we seek, be it an accomplishment or our next meal.

These pieces are gentle brushes across the moire of the lives of strangers. When we leave the exhibit, which person will we carry with us? Do they reflect something recognizable within ourselves as well? In a time of such uncertainty, a gentle touch may mean more than we realize. We hope this exhibition stands as a testament to the warmth of people, even those we will never meet. 

——Curator, Peter Hagan