“Chen Changfen: The Historic Wall” and “Fernando Castro: Reasons of State”

Imagine looking at the same damn wall for 40 years. Boring, right? Well, not if you’re Chen Changfen and the wall in question is the Great Wall of China. The photographer began shooting the Great Wall of China around 1959 and continued snapping shots for the next 40 years. The result is “Chen Changfen: The Historic Wall,” an exhibit showing the wall in various states, from crumbling rubble overtaken by nature to sturdy construction still in everyday use. What’s surprising is that Chen never once includes a person in his photographs. Just the wall, from all angles. (We could get metaphysical about why, but we’ll leave that up to you.)

Unlike “The Historic Wall,” the accompanying exhibit “Fernando Castro: Reasons of State” does show images with people. But the people Castro photographs are in seemingly bleak, doomed situations. For example, in Tracks, we see a man standing on a barren landscape with only giant tractor tracks for company. 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. Through April 20. De Santos Gallery, 1724-A Richmond Avenue. For information, call 713-520-1200 or visit www.desantosgallery.com. Free.
Tuesdays-Saturdays, 10:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Starts: March 7. Continues through April 20, 2008

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LEIGH BELL