The surreal potential of the everyday draws me toward that uncertain edge of what a photograph can or can’t reveal. Our world dances between light and shadow, splendor and decay, individual and collective. Blending into the City: I wait for that instant where both familiar and evolving backdrops frame a stage for unlikely urban theatre. Within each moment, candid encounters reveal some-kind-of-truth that reads part fiction, part reality.
The act of making pictures allows momentary footing within an uncontrollable existence. It’s the power to create a pause in a world – where we are all vital participants. This pause is followed by the undetermined life of a print; then a chance to understand our place in the grandness of this chaotic scheme.
Motherland: Day I
Exhibition Introduction by Andrew Ananda Voogel
“Daniel Lee Postaer’s inheritance lies in one question:
What is China?
Born in Chicago, and raised in Los Angeles, Postaer inherited China through his Shanghainese mother, and her absence from it. In anticipation of the Cultural Revolution, Daniel’s mother escaped to the United States, via Hong Kong. Forced to leave her young sister, as an insurance policy for the government that she and her family would one day return. Eventually, two sisters were reunited. But, Daniel’s mother never returned to her homeland, until her son found himself deep in the heart of it.
Every five years, China reaches the end of a new era. Time in this land of exponential social, cultural and economic growth is not without its cost. The price of speed, of unhindered expansion leaves daily vestiges, both profound and tragic. Postaer grants us unfettered access into many worlds, characters and structures; both formal and coincidental. Each a tableau coming into the light, as if for the first time.
Postaer’s pictures bring to mind a collection of poems by Chilean Poet and Nobel Laureate Pablo Neruda. Residencia en la Tierra, translated from Spanish to mean Residence on Earth is a profound and brief collection of works that define the truth hidden within the everyday moment. Neruda sculpts the minute, hour and day spent on this planet in words, the same way Postaer uses light, time and shadow to construct his pictures. Both Neruda and Postaer make works at a point that situate themselves somewhere between exile and art.
The curtain is lifted, and the traveller, the wanderer, those with knowledge that the world is a stage of many acts; find themselves peering upon the savage sublime. This peripheral edge allows us to peer at time on the macro and the micro. The sun begins to rise, and with it strained shadows fight to define themselves amidst a new world where mountains are perishing and the future stretches far beyond the sky.”
Photo Alliance Lecture Series
Introduction from Thom Sempere
“Daniel Postaer was born in Chicago and raised in Southern California.
He grew up within a supportive but competitive family: there were brothers involved, a mother born in China, a father in the States who rose to the top of the advertising game.
Anyone that has come to know Daniel knows also that he is a photographer with direction. Camera work was not Postaer’s first career, but it is the one that engenders persistence and passion.
The trajectory of early influence and familiar guidance lead Postaer, like his father, first into international marketing and entertainment — a quick rise up that ladder brought him to China as a significant player with a fine future — yet — allow me to speculate…
Corporate success is not the end-all. Million dollar sports endorsements may bring material goods, but what of the rest of it? So as a rising star he jumped ship, pulled the little known escape cord and abruptly ditched a sure course for art.
The turnaround is remarkable – not for what was given up, but for what Postaer has accomplished in a few short years of intense and dedicated application of effort in his new found arena of picture making.
Just this past spring Daniel received his MFA and hanging on the walls at Ft. Mason were a handful of 40” x 60” exquisitely printed images that turned heads and made even the seasoned professionals take note.
Hanging there was not radically new art, but one that embraced traditions while contemporizing the process of their making.
Postaer has leveraged the energy of the building then disassembling of his early career with the unexpected benefits and unresolved dynamism of growing up in a mixed cultural heritage and parries it into a quest of sorts to unfold work that explores — in his words — the ways in which humanity reconciles and resists modernity — across global booms, busts and the transitional spaces in between – add to that a personal, youthful restlessness to this equation and we also see how (again in his words) he addresses questions of capital, race/ethnicity, and historical belonging.
As Postaer walks the streets of San Francisco, or Santa Monica, Beijing or Ladakh he looks for a story — perhaps his story in the faces and situations presented.
He uses the documentary strength of the medium to record the scene and the characters present.
With high resolution and crisp depth of field, his tools give him the ability to be spontaneous and acquire images quickly if necessary, and also to render these selections in a precise and detailed manner that has its rewards when viewed on the wall.
Postaer wields his technical control carefully and adds to the mix his unique perspective.
On the surface the pictures may be 80% information but the remaining 20% is pure wonder, achieved only by doing.
And picking up on the sports metaphor — any pro basketball player might consistently sink 3 pointers, but only a select few can, during competition, apparently defy gravity, upset the odds, even inspire artistry on the court.
Ambitious dedication to craft certainly helps, but it is the individualization of effort that makes for special moments. And for Postaer it seems to happen each time he walks back out on the street, takes on himself and whether photographing his Motherland, Boomtown, the Silk Road, The Desert, Wilshire Boulevard or The Los Angeles River, the everyday becomes heightened, simply waiting to reveal some-kind-of-truth, perhaps actual, perhaps that delightful something else.”