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Queens College's Museum presents photographs of the famed Silk Roads territories
Didier Vanderperre, Old Kashgar, Xinjiang, China, 2014.

FLUSHING, NY.- Large-format color photographs by two master photographers will act as touchstones for audiences to experience the complex mixture of ancient and modern realities of the Silk Roads. These roads linked the civilizations and cultures of China, Central Asia, West Asia, and Europe for much of pre-modern history—as early as 100 BC—and are long famous as the route of Marco Polo. As a precursor to today’s global world and economy, the cultural and political significance of these ancient routes cannot be overstated.

Exhibited here for the first time are Lynn Gilbert’s photographs of Uzbekistan. Her photographs of Turkey have previously been exhibited at the Roosevelt Library in San Antonio and throughout cities in Turkey. Gilbert’s serene, intimate images of people and domestic interiors are in striking contrast to Didier Vanderperre’s visually dynamic “street photography” of the bustling, sometimes volatile region of Xinjiang, a terminus of the Silk Road. Its borders on Russia, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, and Tibet account for the region’s exceptional diversity, making it an important crossroads throughout history.

“Lynn Gilbert’s passion for Central Asia has resulted in a series of contemplative images of interiors and portraits of people engaged in their traditional way of life,” says Amy Winter, museum director and curator of this exhibition. “Unlike the voyeurism of tourist photography or the romanticism of travel photography, her thoughtful work offers us ‘cultural anthropology as art,’ as stated by noted photo editor Marie Simon.

“In Didier Vanderperre’s series on Xinjiang, pictures of people active in their daily lives display the photographer’s talent for direct, spontaneous imagery that captures the decisive moment in the manner of his countryman Cartier-Bresson,” she continues. “Totally without guise and charged with energy by his frequent 35-mm view, Vanderperre’s work lives up to Robert Capa’s belief that your pictures are good enough only if you’re close enough.”

As a special addition to the photographs on view are ikat robes and textiles from the collection of George Anavian, a highly respected authority on Eastern arts. A complex and beautiful method of printing woven fabric by tie-dyeing the warp and weft yarns before weaving, ikat is widely practiced in Central Asia, and Uzbekistan in particular. In addition, selections from the Godwin-Ternbach’s permanent collection, representing the Silk Roads’ civilizations and cultures, will be on view in the museum’s Lobby Gallery.

The exhibition will open on Thursday, October 15, 2015, with a reception from 6 to 8 pm and a lecture—“Uzbekistan and Xinjiang: Photographs of Life on the Modern Silk Roads”—by Morris Rossabi, Distinguished Professor of History at Queens College and Senior Research Scholar and Adjunct Professor of Inner Asian History, Columbia University, beginning at 6:30 pm. On Saturday, October 17, at 2 pm, there will be an Artists Talk in the museum with Lynn Gilbert and Didier Vanderperre in conversation with Amy Winter.

On-campus public programs will run throughout the exhibition. These will include lectures and music, dance, and theatre performances related to the college’s 2015–2016 Year of the Silk Roads. Dedicated to embracing and understanding the complexity and vitality of our world, Queens College has each year since 2010 explored in-depth the history, art, and culture of a different country. With the Year of the Silk Roads, a group of countries will be the focus for the first time. A website with all events and programs for the Year of the Silk Roads will be available soon on the Queens College website.

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