Echoing the strong vertical format of a hanging scroll, Conner’s image of Le Shan ("joyous mountain") resembles a traditional Chinese landscape composition in which a foreground cliff is juxtaposed with a distant view of water and sky. The artist’s subject is the Le Shan Buddha, an eighth-century sculpture that sits at the confluence of the Min, Dadu, and Qingyi Rivers in China’s Sichuan Province. The 233-foot colossus, the largest carved stone Buddha in the world, was intended to calm the waters flowing below its feet. But viewed against the backdrop of a modern cityscape—vaguely discernible in the distance—this great icon, hewn from the cliffside as an act of devotion, has been literally marginalized and reduced to a tourist attraction.
Inscription: Signed and inscribed in pencil, recto TL [sideways]: "Buddha, Le Shan, Sichuan, China (1986) Lois Conner"; inscribed in pencil, recto BL: "CH86134 131 HIC // 94dc 4.7.9604 // 1-70u60d 160b"; inscribed in the negative, recto BL [sideways]: "CH86134 Le Shan, Sichuan"
Lois Conner; [Lawrence Miller Gallery, New York]; Arthur Fleischer, Jr.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Poetics of Place: Contemporary Photographs from the Collection," December 12, 2016–May 29, 2017.
Conner, Lois. Photographs of China: In the Shadow of the Wall. Taichung, Taiwan: Taiwan Museum of Art, 1992. p. 105.
Conner, Lois. Panoramas of the Far East. Photographers at Work. 1st ed. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution, 1993. np.
Conner, Lois. China: The Photographs of Lois Conner. New York: Callaway Editions, 2000. p. 33.