Double Take: The Asia Photographs of Brian Brake and Steve McCurry

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The launch of Life magazine in 1936 set the stage for a hugely influential approach to using and seeing photographs: the photo essay came to dominate – and direct – the social, economic, and political narratives that underscored the 20th century. So much so that, today, images as "the photograph" are an essential tool for conveying all manner of scenes, incidents, stories of daily life, human experience and personas. “Double Take” presents the work of two exemplary, and hugely influential 20th-century photo essayists, the documentary photographers Brian Brake and Steve McCurry. Both Brake and, twenty years later, McCurry made their reputations as visual storytellers providing eyewitness accounts of great events.
 
The career of New Zealand-born Brian Brake (1927 - 1988) was launched in 1957 with a first photo essay on China – a second followed in 1959 with Brake the only independent Westernphotographer present to cover the 10th Anniversary of the People’s Republic of China in Beijing. The work of American Steve McCurry (1950 - ) became a regular feature of National Geographic from the early 1980s, following the first publication in the New York Times in 1979, of his photograph of the war in Afghanistan. Both men photographed the Indian monsoon — Brake in 1960, McCurry in 1983-1985 — which is where this exhibition begins. 
 
“Double Take” also considers the work of these two renowned photographers from a contemporary perspective, raising critical issues about the West’s historical fascination with "exotic Asia". What deeper stories are revealed by rereading these photographs today?  
 
The exhibition was organized and presented by Asia Society Hong Kong Center in 2016, and subsequently travelled to the Auckland Arts Festival, at Te Uru Waitakere Contemporary Gallery, New Zealand, in 2017. It is currently on view at Shanghai Centre of Photography. For details, please visit https://www.scop.org.cn/.