This body of work represents the most recent photographs from an ongoing book-in-progress, funded by fellowships from both the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation and the Asian Cultural Council.
Over the past three years Rubinfien has been working exclusively in the Far East; the photographs in the present exhibition were made in Japan, China, Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam and Burma. Though Rubinfien is a longtime New Yorker, he first went to the Far East in 1963 and lived there intermittently for many years. Speaking Japanese and enough Chinese and Indonesian to communicate, Rubinfien has found access into places and situations which are closed to the experience of most westerners. Though Rubinfien’s photographs are of exotic locales, his images could not be more distant in approach or spirit from the National Geographic style which we have come to associate with such places.
Rubinfien is considered a major force in the new generation of photographers who, in the past ten years, have begun to work in color in a more confident, more natural, and more ambitious manner. With this approach, color is no longer a separate issue to be solved in isolation, but rather as the world itself existed in color. In this way, the pictures are not photographs of color, just as they are not photographs of shapes, textures, objects, or symbols, but rather photographs of experience, as ordered and clarified within the structures imposed by the camera.