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Elaine Ling

September 25 - December 16, 2010
Artist Talk, Book Signing & Opening Reception: September 25, 5:00-7:00 pm

Elaine Ling

“I am intrigued by the role that this thousand year old giant plays in the lives of its human neighbors. It is an enduring presence, perhaps even older than the legends that are passed down from generation to generation; its roots are deeply intertwined with daily existence. I partner each Baobab with a person who lives near the tree and try to capture their unique relationship; a grandmother, a grandfather, a young man, a young woman, a mother, a boy child, a girl child. This project encompasses portraits of people and trees from Mali, South Africa, Ivory Coast and Madagascar.”

Elaine Ling


For more than twenty years Elaine Ling has explored the shifting equilibrium between nature and the man-made in eloquent portraits and documents from the margins of communities and societies and the far-flung corners of the world, including Mongolia, Namibia, North Africa, India, South America, Australia, Zimbabwe, the Middle East, Cambodia and the American Southwest. Her large format photographs from these often exotic locations present us with a compelling portrait of life and nature in dynamic balance. This exhibition brings together two series of photographs from world’s that are utterly different, and at the opposite sides of the globe; Boabab-Tree of Generations, from Mali, South Africa, Ivory Coast and Madagascar; and Florida Contact.

In 2002, Elaine Ling was one of a group of invited artists-in-residence at the Atlantic Center for the Arts in New Smyrna Beach, Florida. During those few weeks Ling completed a black and white large-format photography project using Florida landscapes, abandoned and derelict buildings and evacuated houses. In the series we are confronted with sullen and poignant images of decay, destruction and waste co-existing within a larger portrait of a landscape that is twisted, contorted and bristling with regenerative energy and life.

Out of the arid and infertile regions of Africa, Madagascar and Australia, the Baobab Tree grows to a gigantic size; one of the largest living things in the world. With a potential lifespan exceeding 1,000 years, the miracle of this tree is that it is a renewable source of material for the essentials of life: textiles, nets, baskets and roofing. Its fruit is a rich source of nutrition and medicine.

“Elaine Ling’s photographs of Mongolia complete a full circle in her life. Her ancestry, her work as a doctor caring for native peoples, her background in music and her mastery of photography converge to yield this beautiful volume. She makes great photographs in one of the world’s most remote places: this is photographic field­work in its finest form.”Mark Klett


Elaine Ling was born in Hong Kong, but has lived in Canada since age nine. After completing her medical studies she became a family physician. Her special interest was the First Nation population of Northern Canada and her practice encompassed much of Arctic northern Canada from the northeast coast of Newfoundland to the northwest coast of British Columbia. She developed a deep affinity for the Ojibwa, Cree, Inuit, Kwakiutl and Haida peoples of these isolated regions and began to make her first serious photographic images.

Ling has exhibited extensively in the US, Canada, Mexico, South America and Europe including solo and group exhibitions at the Zoellner Arts Center and the DuBois Gallery in Pennsylvania; Griffin Museum of Photography; Houston Fotofest; Stephen Bulger Gallery; Sepia; Blue Sky Gallery; Houston Center of Photography and the Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution in Washington. In Canada her work has been shown in solo exhibitions at the Canadian Sculpture Centre and the Mistral, Arcturus, Posluns, Idee and McGill Galleries and in Europe at Bratislava Photofest; Prague House of Photography; Kievfoto; Centro Portugues de Fotografia; Mannheim Fototage; Fotobiennale, Moscow and Musée de la Photographie à Charleroi. Her images have also been featured extensively in group exhibitions throughout Europe and at many photography centers in South America including Foto Arte, Brasilia; FotoRio; Mirafoto, Lima; Museo Antioquia, Medellin; Encuentros Abiertos, Buenos Aires and at the Fototeca Bienal, Cuba.

Ling’s photographs are in the permanent collections of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Henry Buhl Foundation in NYC; Royal Ontario Museum; Ryerson University; Windsor Art Gallery; Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography; Brooklyn Museum; Musée de la Photographie à Charleroi; Bibliothèque Nationale de France and Museet for Fotokunst, Denmark. She has published in ZOOM, Aperture, The Polaroid Book, View Camera, Photo Review, Powerhouse Review, Artweek, fotoMAGAZIN, PHOTO Technik International and in numerous specialist and trade magazines in Europe., Canada and South America. In 2005 Ling was the Photo Lucida Photographer of the Year. Her most recent project; Mongolia: Land Of The Deer Stone, an intimate and personal journal following nomadic families through the ancient landscape of Mongolia, was published in 2009.

Elaine Ling Elaine Ling Elaine Ling
Baobab, Tree of Generations #9, Mali Rita Village Baobab, Tree of Generations #6, Mali
Installation Images:

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Exhibitions and programs at the Southeast Museum of Photography are supported in part by Daytona State College, Volusia ECHO and the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs and the Florida Council on the Arts.

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