Everyone asks, “who is Michael Jang?” but has anyone checked lately, HOW is Michael Jang? We sure did and he is thriving. For one thing, he was just awarded a coveted 2021 Guggenheim Fellowship and now a Deadbeat Club zine.
Even as the pandemic altered our perception of shared space, with the indoors largely off-limits, Jang continued showing his photos – at intersections, on street corners, across shuttered windows and doors, free to the public, on view indefinitely and prone to spontaneous “collaboration”.
“A Funny Thing Happened On My Way To The Noodle Bar” is a selection of original photos and their latest public reincarnations for what Jang describes as, “Automatic for the People… free, no need to check your bag, food and ‘drink’ allowed. Open 24-7.”
About the Author
Michael Jang (b. 1951) secretly documented the sub-cultural circles of San Francisco he took part in, paving the way for the visibility of Asian-American culture through images of his imaginative family life; and, michwith a keen sense of timing, iconic moments in California history.
Subversive and cheeky photographer, Jang has captured front-line and behind-the-scenes images of historical events. His determined approach is structured by his distinctive spontaneous style, which exposes a narrative of pure joy and candid jokes.
Over the past forty years, he has made a living as a portrait photographer, capturing iconic figures such as Jimi Hendrix, Robin Williams, and William Burroughs, among others. However, this modest Asian-American photographer has also infiltrated and simultaneously documented a number of groups and subcultures from all strata of society: from celebrity parties in Beverly Hills to the youth of Castro’s Cuba, from South City gangs to rodeos, from the Old West, and from the punk rock scene of the late 1970s to the teen garage bands of the early 2000s in San Francisco.
His images are allegories of particular moments in time, characterized by their candid honesty, resoluteness, and vivacity. SFMoMA recently acquired some of his early prints and exhibited them alongside contemporaries such as Garry Winogrand, Diane Arbus, and Lee Friedlander.
Jang’s photographs are also in the collections of the Cantor Arts Center, the Asian Art Museum, the Berkeley Art Museum, and Pacific Film Archive, the New York Public Library, the Royal Ontario Museum, and the Museum of Modern Art, among others.