i went to the beach and stared west

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i went to the beach and stared west (38.8°N), 2011 Hand Printed Analogue Chromographic Print, Vintage Map 8.5 X 11 In. © Ding Ren
i went to the beach and stared west
Curated by: Chantal van Genderen

Bethaniënstraat 39
November 3rd, 2012 - November 25th, 2012
Opening: November 3rd, 2012 5:00 PM - 7:00 PM

the Dam
photography, conceptual, landscape


“The beach town, Praia das Maçãs in Portugal is at the same degrees latitude (38.8° N) as Washington, DC, my former home.  It is also the furthest point West on continental Europe. I traveled to this point specifically so that I could stand on the beach and stare directly west, at the same latitude as the city I used to call home.  Growing up on the East coast of the United States, I have always gone to the beach and stared East.  Now that I am living on the other side of the Atlantic, I can go to the beach and stare West.  I still face the same Atlantic Ocean, but from another direction, from Europe to North America, instead of vise versa.  This change in direction is a small gesture, but it represents a new point of view—a shift in perception that is both connected and separated to the old one by an invisible latitude line.   


The act of going to the beach and staring West marks the beginning of the Topographic Mindset project, which examines topography, identity, and place in relationship to the flat topography of the Netherlands.  The flatness contrasts with the topography that I know in the United States and China.  These two lands, rooted in varied topography and vast wilderness have influenced my mindset.  As a result, I have started seeing topographic lines in all aspects of daily life.  The curve of a telephone wire becomes the curve of an absent mountain.  The shape of a shadow becomes the absent volume in the landscape, and so forth.”


The exhibition at ACF features a selection of photographs from the Topographic Mindset project taken while traveling throughout Europe, North American, and SouthEast Asia in the past two years. All photographs featured in the exhibition are hand-printed chromogenic prints made in the last remaining independent darkroom in Amsterdam.