Image size (HxW): 24” x 47” inches | Paper Size (HxW): 30” x 53” | Edition of 5
I was visiting family in Taiwan and Hainan this summer, where I also managed to shoot two World of One pictures. Migrant Shores was taken in Sanya, a popular beach and resort destination on tropical island of Hainan, China. Physically, I think this was one of the most difficult shots I endured so far. The heat and humidity of the tropical island climate turned any sort of outdoor activity into a workout. Hell, I’d start sweating just sitting around in shorts! Let alone trying to take pictures in a full blown suit!!!
Though our shooting location for Migrant Shores was only a five minute ride from our hotel, I was already sweating bullets by the time we arrived. The overwhelming humidity also restricted my movements, making the suit stick like a second skin only in the most disgusting way possible. Alas, we only shot through two rolls before I succumbed to the climate and called it a day.
A big thank you to my wonderful girlfriend Yen the Lo who assisted me on this shoot!
Johnny Tang Says (Artist Notes)
Migrant Shores was inspired by the recent work of Ai Waiwai, which deals with the migrant crisis currently facing Europe. The piece is intended to illustrates what I see as the West’s indifference to the plight of the refugees flooding out of the Middle East. The composition is based off an image Ai shared on social media, where he recreated the scene of drowned Syrian toddler Alan Kurdi.
Migrant Shores illustrates how our reaction to tragedy is now to snap a photo, and then share it on social media. I don’t know if this is good or bad. Certainly, if I had never seen Ai’s picture in my twitter feed, I probably never would’ve given the refugee crisis much thought. But because I did see Ai’s image on social media, the crises now bothers me enough that I’ve gone so far as to make art about it with Migrant Shores.
Mostly, I can empathize with just how much it must suck so hard to be in that situation. You have to flee your home, because a mob of assholes want to rape/murder you and your family. Travel hundreds of miles to a foreign country, using slow and dangerously overcrowded transportation options that might kill you. Only to arrive on the shores of what must seem like paradise, after the hell you’ve been through to get there. Only to be denied entry by people who don’t speak your language.
I don’t know what we should do, which is probably why I’m making artwork about it. But on a basic human level, I believe the one thing we absolutely can’t do, is send them back!!
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