Beyond the Frame: Bin Han’s Photo Series Presents Personal Story

What It’s Like to Lose a Loved One With ‘Boxes’

  • The photo series ‘Boxes’ was exhibited at Visual Arts Visuels Gallery’s show ‘No.02.’ Photo Nanor Froundjian

  • Bin Han’s father doesn’t not seem to belong in the environment. Photo Nanor Froundjian

  • The series experiment with lighting. Photo Nanor Froundjian

  • “I feel like it’s kind of difficult to explain to a very close person what you’re trying to express,” said Bin Han. Photo Nanor Froundjian

Bin Han truly felt the impact of losing someone dear for the first time when his grandmother passed away last summer.

His photo series Boxes, exhibited at Visual Arts Visuels Gallery’s show No.02, illustrates the imprint of that loss within his family.

“I am very close to my grandmother, so when she passed away, [it was the first time I felt], ‘Wow, people really die and they will never come back,’” he said.

Han’s parents used to spend part of each year in China to visit her, but now they don’t have a reason to return. Han said that, in many ways, his parents have lost their connection to their homeland.

Han’s father was deeply affected by losing his mother.

“They don’t speak much English, not French as well, so at some point, they’re kind of handicapped, kind of like living in a box. Their living is constrained,” Han said about the new reality his parents had to adapt to.

Hence the title: Boxes.

Han asked his father to model for him for the shoot, without explaining the premise of the project.

“I feel like it’s kind of difficult to explain to a very close person what you’re trying to express,” he said.

The eight-picture series—the first half capturing a real house and the second half, a cardboard house—experiments with lighting. The series shows a subject, Han’s father, who did not seem to belong in the environment. “You always get that sense of loneliness,” said Han.

Often, Han relates his projects to his identity. His previous one was about dépanneurs, and he visited 20 to 30 of them across Montreal.

“Dépanneurs are something special for Quebec,” he said. “Also right now, many dépanneurs are run by Asian people and Chinese people so I’m very interested in their environment.”

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