Created by the French photographer Eric Leleu (b. 1979) , the series Subtitles (re)invents the story of hengfu (橫幅), the famous red Chinese banners bearing powerful messages. Armed with a 35mm Leica M6 and a large-format 4x5”, Leleu was “seduced by their form and by their violence.” His desire to understand them led Leleu to photograph them, substitute them and ultimately eclipse all original meaning. This years-long project – begun in 2008 – is composed in three chapters. The first chapter, “Authority,” is the preliminary phase of the project, more journalistic, darker, literally and conceptually. Shot in Shanghai and Beijing and mostly at night, the series shows the banners, “as they were seen by the Chinese.” The second chapter, "Vox Populi", denotes change in tone. As an attempt to distance himself from the “dark and perhaps moralizing connotations,” Leleu relies on imagination and humor. This time he creates his own banners and hangs them in either picturesque or incongruous public places. "Silent Protest" ends the series and opens up the realm of possibilities. Shot in China (Yunnan, Xinjiang) and France (Baie de Somme, Chantilly), this chapter suggests "nature does not obey human boundaries". In sum, Subtitles is a deliberately satirical, overtly political, deeply poetic, and filled with social commentary.
More information: Eric Leleu’s website