"In 1983, a local TV station held a contest for anyone who wanted a chance at reporting the weather. My role was to take head shots of contestants after each screen test. Five winners were chosen out of nearly one hundred applicants. The pictures were never used, but I developed the negatives anyway (without proofing them). These images had been lost until recently and I am seeing them for the very first time." -Michael Jang
Michael Jang is an established photographer who has always had an eye for recognizing and capturing the defining moments of his generation. Well known for his commercial photography and portraiture of notable figures from the 70s and 80s, such as William Burroughs, Alice Walker, Jimi Hendrix, Frank Sinatra and many others, Jang’s work is recently resurfacing in a new light. The SF MOMA has recently acquired several of his early prints from the series “The Jangs”, in which he tells the story of his Asian family trying to assimilate into the suburban American mainstream of the ‘70s. Although he has been described as a social realist, or influenced by Robert Frank, Jang admits that he isn’t always thinking about documenting the historical significance of his subjects while he is shooting. It is only after the passing of time that he is able to look back at his photographs from the 70s and 80s and see their humor and significance within their social and historical context. Consciously or not, Jang has an uncanny intuition for recognizing, and capturing particular everyday moments that will go on to become artful allegories of a particular point in time. The fact that his photos are taken unassumingly, and are not tainted by the ego or bias of an artist with a grandiose agenda, allows images to speak for themselves with the candid truthfulness, accuracy, and vivacity that is characteristic of his work.
To see more of Michael’s work, visit his website at: michaeljang.com and follow him on Instagram at instagram.com/michaeljangsf