This exhibition marks the thirtieth anniversary of the Tiananmen Square protests through the work of the photographer Khiang H. Hei (b. 1968). Born in Cambodia and pursuing a college degree in the United States, Hei was studying abroad in Beijing when student activists began to agitate for political change. He started to take photographs soon thereafter, returning to Tiananmen Square over and over again to capture the hunger strikes and marches leading up to the bloody events of June 4, 1989. In contrast to the coverage of Tiananmen Square in contemporary news outlets, Hei’s account shows the humble origins of the protests that would later draw international attention. As a foreign student in the midst of a student-driven movement, Hei was both an insider and outsider. This liminal position offered him a unique perspective on the events unfolding before his lens.
Organized by Donna Gustafson, Curator of American Art and Mellon Director for Academic Programs, and Hannah Shaw, Graduate Curatorial Assistant