Lure of the Local(e)

Brandon Ng


Filter Photo is pleased to present Lure of the Local(e), a solo exhibition of photographic work by Brandon Ng


Lure of the Local(e) investigates the complexity of belonging. Through the use of portraiture, object, and photographic sculpture, Ng considers the role of the settler, the citizen, and the human. Reflecting on experiences from his home in Hawaiʻi to the continental United States, the artist explores how land and place specificity affect individual and collective positionality.


The exhibition's title samples Lucy Lippard's book The Lure of the Local: Sense of Place in a Multicentered Society. The text focuses on how the body connects to place by examining its relationship to history, geography, and culture. Ng's remix of the show's title includes the inclusion of an "e" at the end of local to call attention to the body and place specificity. Furthermore, it refers to "local culture," a particular political and cultural identity marker in Hawaiʻi. This paronomasia acknowledges subversive notions of land passivity while activating critical discourse surrounding race, power, and settler colonialism. 


Considering how the body navigates through space, Ng constructs a series of gestures to investigate the nuanced and paradoxical nature of identity and place. In the center of the gallery sits Untitled (Undefined), a sculptural double-sided photograph of the artist's bust. The head is cut out from the lips up and folded over to create a free-standing structure. This piece speaks to the body's malleability in response to external stimuli that both nurture and oppress. At the same time, it provides a portal to which other pieces in the gallery are seen, inviting the viewer to share Ng's gaze and persona, much like one does carnival cutouts.  


Central to the idea of belonging is its relationship to celebration. The celebratory often is overshadowed by a turn to injustice when examining social discourse. (O)Ng lei addresses the latter. Ng sourced vernacular photographs from two families who never met each other, isolated moments in their images that highlight common occurrences of jubilation, then printed them on textiles. The images were then manipulated to reference an oversized ti leaf lei, calling attention to the lei's function as a gesture to congratulate, welcome, and acknowledge. Through these images, we become aware of how intimacy and tenderness manifest to unveil the universality of the familial experience. At the same time, the piece catalyzes viewers to consider their construction of the home and to question the duality of belonging and separation.


Lucy Lippard describes place having a particular pull, one that "operates in each of us, exposing our politics and our spiritual legacies. It is the geographical component of the psychological need to belong somewhere, one antidote to a prevailing alienation." Ng's work is a critical self-examination of the spaces where history and the body overlap. In doing so, the question he asks himself and his audience to consider is not if I belong, rather how I belong.

Brandon K.H. Ng (b. 1984, Honolulu, HI) received his BFA from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa (2012) and is his MFA at Arizona State University (2020). His photographic and installation works focus on the complexities of identity and place distilled through historical, social, and political systems.

This exhibition is partially sponsored by The Illinois Arts Council Agency.

Exhibition Dates: May 13 – June 18, 2022
Opening Reception: May 13, 6 - 9 PM CT
Location: Filter Space | 1821 W. Hubbard St., Ste. 207
Gallery Hours: Monday – Friday, 11 am – 5 pm | Saturday, 12 - 4 pm