I grew up on the edge of Chinatown in San Francisco and later lived for ten years in New York City’s Chinatown. These photographs were shot in both those neighborhoods, at night, in the fall of 2007 and were exhibited at the Fresno Museum of Art, California, in the winter of 2007/2008.
The title of this series comes from a trip I took in 1987 to the Famen temple near Xi’an, China. In the crypt of the pagoda, on a mirrored stand inside a small glass case lit by many shiny bright lights rotating uncomfortably quickly, was a relic. Situated on its red velvet bed was one of Buddha’s fingers. Some believe that if you have seen a relic from the Buddha, you have experienced nirvana.
In my photographs there is frequently an undercurrent of discomfort, of movement, as if the subject were breathing, offering itself to be found and seen; apprehended if not fully understood. Evocations of feeling states: weightlessness, warmth or cold, anxiety or hope, induce a shifting response—sometimes pleasurable, sometimes difficult— reflecting complicated states of existence.
A successful image distills a sense of the present—where one can be curious and imagine other peoples’ stories, other places, and even, on occasion, be at peace with one’s own.