Pengkuei Ben Huang: TWOKINGS

1839 Contemporary Gallery is going to hold the “TWOKINGS” photography exhibition from May 24 to June 30, 2024, showcasing the works of Pengkuei Ben Huang, an overseas Chinese photographer living in Canada. The work explores the process of transforming an abandoned industrial area into a mixed-use community through the TWO KINGS Project, launched by the City of Toronto in 1996. This project has changed the face of Toronto’s downtown area. The former factories have been replaced by large parking lots and modern buildings, injecting new vitality into the city and also triggering discussions about “gentrification.”

Against this background, Ben focused on the implementation area of ​​the “Two Kings Project” through photography, exploring the transformation of the city of Toronto and the conflict in the integration of modernity and the past, and reflecting the relationship between urban growth and the preservation of past characteristics. Intricate relationships. The opening and art discussion event will be held on Saturday, June 1 at 14:30 pm. Photographer Huang Pengkui (BEN) will attend in person and share the story of his creation series and the challenges he met. We sincerely invite all friends to visit us.

BEN settled in Canada in 2005. He received guidance from the famous photographer Tao Lairui at the Magnum Photography Studio in Toronto, and was a finalist for the Scotia Award. His work, widely recognized in Canada and internationally, focuses on the relationship between humans and the rapidly changing natural environment.

Exhibition Statement
The Kings Regeneration Planning Initiative, known as “The Two Kings”, is an initiative launched by the City of Toronto in 1996 to reappropriate 400 acres of land on the southern portion of downtown. The area would envision a thriving mixed-use community from an abandoned industrial wasteland by reconfiguring an outdated and rigid zoning by-law.

Since then, Toronto’s southern downtown has experienced a dramatic transformation. Gone are empty factories and large car parks of yesteryear, with futuristic condominiums becoming new landmarks filling the skyline.  The revitalized communities, although generating much needed urban vitality, have sparked a debate on the impact of gentrification. But the economic success of The Two Kings emboldened Toronto’s ambition to reshape neighborhoods beyond the downtown core.  New towers emerged, replacing the old decadence while altering the characteristics of affected communities.

It is within such a context, photographer Pengkuei BEN HUANG began to focus on areas where The Two Kings initiatives were implemented. It offers a glimpse of the city in transformation, for which inhabitants are growing accustomed to reluctantly. These photographs, illustrating a clash or a fusion of the modern and the past, symbolized the city’s desire for a prosperous metropolis. Yet they could as well be regarded as a visual reflection on a complex relationship between urban regeneration and the current neoliberal climate that is impacting modern cities.

About Artist Pengkuei Ben Huang
Pengkuei Ben Huang is a Toronto-based Taiwanese-Canadian Photographer. After moving to several countries with his parents, he settled in Canada in 2005. He took an interest in photography while studying in the US and eventually earned his BFA at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. He was selected as one of the finalists for The Scotiabank Prize in 2007 at Magnum Workshop Toronto under the mentorship of the renowned photographer Larry Towell. His work has been recognized both at home in Canada and internationally. His practice focuses on the relationship between humans and the rapidly evolving nature through photography.

Date|2024.05.24 – 2024.06.30 11:00-19:00
Opening & Artist Talks|2024.06.01 (六) 14:30-16:30
Curated by|Edward, I-Chien CHIU, phD
Venue|1839 Contemporary Gallery
TEL│02-2778 8458

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