Danny Lyon: Message to the Future
Audio Guide Playlist

Listen to commentary from scholars Elisabeth Sussman, Todd Gitlin, Julian Cox, and artist Danny Lyon on selected works in the exhibition Danny Lyon: Message to the Future.

Narrator: Lyon made this montage after a trip China. The central image shows two women. The one on the right is his translator, Lolly.  

Elisabeth Sussman: Instead of documenting what was going on in the transition of China into this super-postmodern thing it was today, he got very interested in a few people, and in one person in particular who took him around and was his translator and his guide. It was a young woman, and he became very attached to her. He began to see it through her eyes and looking at her, and so on. They are very modest intimate pictures of China not of large social abstractions. 

Narrator: In the photograph, Lolly appears with the proprietor of a fireworks store. There’s no clear narrative. Instead, the point of interest seems to be the play between their postures and attitudes. It is up to the viewer to supply the story, and the meaning.

By building this image into a larger montage, Lyon goes even further in inviting interpretation. He’s included family photos, a fragmentary image of a sculpture, torn wallpaper, and other bits and pieces that seem to emerge from the past.  Taken together, the work’s elements serve as a meditation on the relationship between photographic images, memory, and personal meaning. 


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