Belonging, Being, Becoming

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Belonging, Being, Becoming

Artists: Ana Escobar, Mamie Heldman, Yufan Lu, Bohyeon Kim
Curated by Bertha Wang and Yufan Lu, Head Curator Ivana D’Accico

Carmel by the Green

Exhibition dates: 4th May – 4th July, 2017


As anyone who has lived in a metropolis can attest, the speed of daily life can be relentless. We are often swept along with the crowd, mediated blindly down streets, onto station platforms and underground, up escalators to our place of work and home again, with such breathless pace that we often become indifferent to our surroundings. Technology has further exacerbated the issue, offering up constant distraction and connectivity, but distancing us from our immediate environment and those physically closest to us.

In his essay of 1903 entitled “The Metropolis and Mental Life”, German sociologist Georg Simmel theorised this ostensible aloofness as a mental coping mechanism against the overstimulation of city life (with its constant bustle, its crowds and rapid speed of change).  He termed this the “blasé attitude”, the essence of which is “an indifference towards the distinctions between things.” Acting as a corrective to this perceived sensory ennui is Brandon Stanton’s infamous photo blog “Humans of New York”, a point of inspiration for this exhibition, which details with warmth the depth of lived experience of individuals, privileging the richness of such one-to-one encounters. His ongoing project helps to illustrate that, in our modern quest to be constantly arriving “somewhere”, we rarely find the sense of contentment and connection we strive for, and in our hurry miss the beauty and humanity all around us.

“Belonging, Being, Becoming” brings together four artists each approaching this theme in varied ways, with conceptual, biographical and abstract interpretations. Ana Escobar looks to revalidate modernity’s denigrated concepts of irrationality and superstition and explores their uses as coping mechanisms for the insecurities of metropolitan living. Bohyeon Kim reflects on the evanescence of the emotions within the fast-paced milieu of urban life, using visual experiments to capture “abstraction of emotion” in city settings, while both Mamie Heldman and Yufan Lu highlight the fluid and transient nature of “belonging”. While Heldman reflects on the shifting importance away from familial bonds to that of a surrogate family of ones’ peers (especially for young adults’ self-conception), Lu portrays the fraught relationship of the Chinese student community in the UK to a sense of place; their status as temporary migrants tainting their sense of new beginnings and belonging with uncertainty from the start. 

*Text by Daniel Pateman

Ana Escobar – The Supernatural

Dark matter doesn’t bend to light is an on-going body of work. Through it, I challenge myself to explore photographically themes related to superstition, the unconscious, the supernatural. I strive to challenge the limitations of mental life brought upon by the conditions of contemporary life. I aim to create work that validates and re-enforces the value and needs of those very undermined concepts: the irrational, the unreason, the instinctual life. The piece develops from insecurities arisen from photography theory to the integration of that new knowledge, yielding a space where consciousness and intuition can cohabitate and flourish. The piece asks viewers to restore intuition as a valid tool to understand, critique and consume photography.

Bio: Ana Escobar was born in Huelva, Spain in 1975. She has a background in fine art, having earned her bachelor’s and her MA in Photography at London College of Communication, University of the Arts, London in 2016. Escobar works predominantly with the medium of photography, including multi-media installations and live performance. Her main theme is the in-between space the artist inhabits, which is explored through the use of archetypes, alchemy, and mythologies in a psychoanalytical Jungian tradition.



Bohyeon Kim – Abstraction of Emotion

Inspired by my experiences as a painter and sculptor, my photographic practice embodies a preoccupation with how and where form is imbued with meaning. A site is the source of all the <abstraction of emotion> works and the place where creation and extinction of a city happen. I try to exchange with my subjects at each site through an artistic activity called an intervention. This records atmospheric emotion that was captured in the moment to moment of city life in order to interpret photography in diverse aspects, rather than limit it as a fact or historical reference.

Bio: Bohyeon Kim currently lives and works in London. She is studying at University College London, MFA Fine Arts and studied oriental painting at Chung-Ang University in South Korea. Bohyeon’s photographs aspects which act as puristic elements of emotional backdrops to her pictorial world.  Her resulting photographs creates visual works that blur the boundaries of photography and painting.




Mamie Heldman – Together, Us

“…That the two solitudes protect and touch and greet each other…” – Rainer Maria Rilke

Most people think of the word family in relation to blood; however, membership can be gained through shared experiences, momentary interconnectivity, history, and commonality. As young adults emerge into the world and move away from the various forms of community that have defined their sense of belonging, there is an intuitive search to form surrogate familial bonds that go beyond companionship, but lend directly to the integral pathway of self-identity. 

Bio: Mamie Heldman is a documentary photographer based in Brooklyn, New York. Born in Nashville, Tennessee, she graduated with a degree in Communications from the University of Tennessee, where she focused her research and writing on interpersonal relationships in connection with levels of self-disclosure. In 2014, she studied photography under Hally Pancer in Paris, France, where she explored ideas of self and observation. In 2016 she completed the one-year certificate program in Documentary Practice and Visual Journalism at the International Center of Photography. Her work includes themes of identity, intimacy, and sense of place.


Yufan Lu – Chinese London

According to a report by Center for China & Globalization, there were nearly 92,900 Chinese students studying in the UK in 2015, making China the top non-EU sending country of overseas students. London, as the center of the UK’s higher education, remains its top attractiveness among Chinese who seek their further education here. However, in contrast to the huge number is the limited time most Chinese students are allowed to stay in the UK – around one year and a half before their Tier 4 visa expires. For them, the beginning of their life in the UK already has the end projected onto it. Doreen Massey talked about the unfair distribution of mobility in the age of globalization, which caused strata in people’s new “senses of places”. By asking my subjects to take me to their favorite places in London for a portrait, I intended to let them speak for themselves of their senses of London, and how they cope with their life as a temporary migrant.

Bio: Yufan Lu is a photographer based in London and Beijing. Her work is mainly focused on urbanism, especially people’ identities and their connection with each other as well as the cities. She is also interested in black-and-white darkroom practices. She believes that the old-school yet romantic practice leads her closer to the essence of photography, as the word’s Greek origin discloses – “light drawing”. She is currently undertaking the master degree in Photography and Urban Cultures at Goldsmiths, University of London.




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