China Pulse is a series of exhibitions curated by young Chinese curators and China photography specialists to be held in Xiamen during Jimei x Arles International Photo Festival. It aims at taking the pulse of current trends in Chinese photography. Below is an introduction of the four key exhibitions to be planned next November 2017.
Phantom Pain Clinic
Curated by Shen Chen
Artists: Yoshikatsu Fujii (1979), Hsu Che-Yu (1985), Shen Linghao (1988), Max Sher (1975), Sheida Soleimani (1990), Wang Tuo (1984)
Location: Jimei Citizen Center
Phantom limb, firstly coined by American neurologist Silas Weir Mitchell, is the sensation that an amputated or missing limb is still attached. Phantom pain is described as the feeling of pain in an absent limb or a portion of a limb. The experience of pain is physical, yet psychological.
Applying the basic prototype of “Loss/Damage - Pain - Observation - Intervention”, the exhibition Phantom Pain Clinic takes “phantom pain” as a metaphor, survey the types and mechanism of different “phantom pains” and try to find the therapies. The pathology of phantom pain can be psychogenic but also an intrinsic stress response to the loss of the organs. It is easy to recognize the loss of part of the bodies, but hard to perceive the broken personalities, the losing or erasing of memories, and the damage or division to the social structures.
In the exhibition, artists are also doctors. They observe and reveal different kinds of phantom pains. The artists have appropriated, more or less, forgotten or lost images, texts and plots. They were like phantoms wandering around somewhere else in the world or on the internet. They used to point to the ambiguous imagination, stir up interlinking possibilities and trigger narrative illusions, but can never be completed. The artists attempted to restore or recontextualize them and have them anchored, so as to explore these “phantom pains”.
“Phantom pain” does not lead to death necessarily, but reminds of the once-existed absence and the survival remains through the anguish ceaselessly. “Phantom pain” can only be mitigated or suspended to some extent, but hard to be cured completely. Facing up to it, nevertheless, may be the first step to understand and to heal.
To Be An Image Maker
Curated by He Jing
Artists: Ko Sin Tung (1987), Li Ran (1986), Pu Yingwei (1989), Tong Yixin (1988), Wang Tuo (1984), Xiang Zhenhua (1986)
Location: Jimei Citizen Center
Today’s photographers or photographic artists have to not only take photos but also be able to reflect on the environment of photography. Compared with the traditional concept of the “photographer” this describes someone who is more like an “image maker”. The “making” in question is not simply technical, but more a reflection on a series of gestures in the image-making process itself and how they are generated. Whether the image is shot, reproduced, copied, edited, misappropriated, tampered with, reset or even destroyed does not matter. In short, the artist as image-maker is no longer simply the person behind the camera clicking the shutter button, nor necessarily deified as a creator in the image world. All these relationships can loosen up and become multidimensional. What is important is that in the whirlpool of dissemination and circulation, the opportunity to intervene in continuous editing and repair is not lost, and that in the creative process, an introspective attitude towards both object and way of working can be preserved.
In the context of Chinese contemporary art, it is imperative that photography is discussed. Perhaps by opening up the so-called “photographic” borders, media barriers that limit the discipline will be lifted. In fact, only when photography is no longer being talked about on its own, but rather viewed in a general context of contemporary images will it be possible to further enrich and activate this visual form. The exhibition To be an image maker at Jimei x Arles International Photography Festival shows several young Chinese artists’ image making practices, opening up the narrow confines of “photography” toward a broad idea of the “image.” While exploring the boundaries of photographic images, the problem is directed towards the media itself in our visual environment and its mechanisms of production. Stemming from this, the exhibitors are all not “photographers” in the traditional sense, but creators of images, installations or texts, or have always been concerned images outside of the perspective or discipline of traditional photography. Despite the different approach, the works presented in this exhibition are all reflections on the artists’ existing image making methods. Thus, it is not so much an exhibition of photographic images as a cultural studies case on contemporary visual environments and image production mechanisms.
Brokenice: 160118 - 170811
Curated by Ruben Lundgren
Location: Jimei Citizen Center
In his spare time blogger BrokenIce hits the street of old Beijing armed with a camera and one request: “Tell me one thing about yourself that is true and one thing that is not true.” It’s a simple concept, consistently executed, that led to remarkable results. The blog, or actually a WeChat subscription account under his name BrokenIce, is a collection of his findings on the street titled according to the date of the post. It combines observations on the street and full body portrait photographs with detail shots of the outfits and answers given by the models. Which part of the answer is true and which part isn’t often stays undefined, adding an extra layer to portraits. Similar to photographers like Liu Tao and 223 who started their career online, BrokenIce has no particular photography education or background of making exhibitions. Instead he decided to share his photography explorations online. As a curator I have taken this opportunity to offer BrokenIce his first “real” solo exhibition.
Curated by Du Xiyun
Artists: Ai Moyang (1969), Hu Weiyi (1990), Li Bo (1982), Meng Huang (1966), Mo Junfeng (1963), Qin Jin (1976), Zhang Zhuyun (1984), Zheng Hongchang (1982)
Location: Jimei Citizen Cente
Being open to the future is a prerequisite for stimulating creativity. In this process, diverse patterns are formed in their most natural way. China today, having sustained many years of fast-paced economic growth, has driven all kinds of change, some with immediate effect and some where the impact has been slower to emerge.
With technological development, photographic production and transmission has become a daily technology for everyone, and the threshold of photographic skills has almost vanished. At this time, the border between professional and amateur has turned to the curation of experience and the quality of thought.
These intuitive works reveal a lot about China. Compared with the past, changes now happen anytime and anywhere, and their whereabouts may twist and turn, without recourse to a reverse. No matter their differences, artists share a concern for the fate of the individual and a hope in a more open future. This is the instinctive call of life, however expressed. Because human nature has never changed, despite our ever increasing number of options.
More information: www.en.jimeiarles.com