“The Rat Tribe” on show at the Istanbul Biennale

Excited and honoured to be showing a set of 12 images from my “Rat Tribe” project in the 15th Istanbul Biennale, which is this year themed “a good neighbour”. Thoughtfully and subtly curated by star contemporary artist duo Elmgreen and Dragset, the biennale exhibits the work of 56 artists from 32 countries exploring the ideas of home, community, neighbourhood. It was very interesting to be shown in a multidisciplinary exhibition and to see my work recontextualised.

The biennale which is spread out over 6 venues in Istanbul, opened to the public last weekend.
The “Rat Tribe” project, which I photographed between 2010 and 2015, is a series of environmental portraits of some of the 1 million Chinese migrant workers living in tiny, partitioned rooms in basements two, three, four floors beneath Beijing’s skyscrapers. I spoke a bit about why I started the project in this CNN interview: http://edition.cnn.com/videos/tv/2015/02/18/intv-lu-stout-sim-chi-yin-china-rat-tribe.cnn
There are many people to thank for help and support with this project over the years. Marcus Bleasdale was an early editor of this work, witnessing from afar how I built the project going knocking on doors one basement after another.
The project started as one I did on my own, and was first published by Kathy Ryan in The New York Times Magazine. Later it was published in many magazines including Financial Times magazine by Emma Bowkett. The final chapter of the work was photographed with the help of a grant from the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting. It’s gone on to be shown in at the first PhotoVille festival in New York — in a Magnum Foundation show installed by Emma Raynes and Ben Gancsos — and in museums and galleries in Seoul, New Zealand. There’s also one print from the series in the Open Society Foundations’ permanent collection. It’s been interesting to see this project span the editorial and exhibition, collecting worlds.

Thank you to the Istanbul Biennale curators Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset of Elmgreen and Dragset studio. You’ve been truly amazing to work with. Thank you too, Sofie Krogh Christensen who first called me from Berlin to discuss the work and curation. To the biennale team for a very nice installation and opening week. And to fellow artists in the biennale, thank you for a lovely opening week; it was pretty special.