Arts art exhibit

Detached: an exhibit of protagonist extras

Student photography captures the beauty of everyday life

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Ivy Li '20, explains her photos to a curious member of audience in her black-and-white photo exhibition in the Wiesner student gallery Dec. 8. Her photos will be exhibited in the gallery for the next month.

Photography Exhibit by Ivy Li
Wiesner Student Art Gallery, Stratton Student Center
Dec. 8–31

On the second floor of the Stratton Student Center, there’s a modern-looking corner with curvy red cushions and a glass entrance. Inside? This month, it’s MIT sophomore Ivy Li’s photography exhibit: Detached. This black-and-white eight-photograph series is the product of a film camera and a rainy weekend in New York.

The series begins with a near-aerial shot of a man in a dark suit against a white background, eyes glued to his smartphone, walking diagonally up towards the right-hand corner of the frame: a man going to work. The series ends with a similarly-dressed, similarly-framed man walking down towards the left-hand corner, suit on his back and posture relaxed: a man returning from work. In between, there are photos from Times Square, side streets, parks, and Broadway, each with their own unique framing. In particular, another aerial photo depicts a group of tourists — perhaps a family — with heads looking up at the sights, cameras in hand, and small traveling backpacks. Other photos show subjects wandering the streets in their everyday lives, umbrellas in hand and reflections underfoot against the rainy pavement.

"Even though every person is an extra in a crowd, each is the protagonist in his or her own story,"  Ivy explained. "I was inspired by the film Synecdoche, New York." The exhibit, as a collection of excerpts from these stories, offers perspective on the matter. Especially in the context of a big city like New York, it’s easy for the individual voices to blend into the incoherent buzz of the crowd, but if we zoom in just a bit, we can see them separately just fine — and this feeling is exactly what Ivy has captured.  

Between now and the end of the term, be sure to stop by the Wiesner Student Art Gallery for a look at this unique display: simple, beautiful, and comforting.

Editor's note: Ivy Li is an Arts Editor at The Tech. She was not involved in arranging this review or editing it.