This week is dedicated to summaries of what happened during the Rencontres d’Arles opening week [3-9 July 2017]. Let’s continue with key conferences that marked the engagement between this authoritative event and China.
Thursday 6th July 2017: Press Conference with Duan Yuting and François Cheval (co-founders of the Lianzhou Museum of Photography)
As the sun was setting in early morning Arles, we tried to shelter from the heat and the sun while we waited in the Fanton courtyard. Yet it was worth the wait. Coming directly from China, Duan Yuting alongside François Cheval introduced us the ambitious creation of the Lianzhou Museum of Photography, which will open its doors next December 2, 2017.
It has been a while that Lianzhou city in the southern Guangdong region has been a key player in the promotion of photography. In fact it has been holding one of the most authoritative festivals in China the past thirteen years: the Lianzhou Foto Festival. Everything started in 2005, when Lin Wenzhao then mayor of the city of Lianzhou held a meeting with several professionals in the field of photography. They discussed about the need to launch an international photo festival in Lianzhou, with the hope that this would become an important cultural platform. A few months later, the newly constituted team decided to take over a 20.000 square meters venue, which consists of several historic buildings: an old granary, a shoe factory and a candy factory. Since then, Lianzhou Foto has discovered now A-list artists, such as the Shanghai duo Birdhead, Zhang Xiao, Ren Hang and many more, while becoming the must-attend festival in China.
Thanks to the longstanding support of the local municipalities, the festival co-founders Duan and Cheval have now turned a successful international festival into a museum. “There are many private collections in China, but this will be the first public museum dedicated to photography sponsored by local authorities”, said Cheval. While introducing the Museum overall architectural plan, Duan and Cheval explained that they will gradually assemble a collection based on the works that will be exhibited during the festival, enhancing the ties that bind both ventures.
The museum will be inaugurated the same day as the festival, which is this year curated by three curators, Joanna Lehan, Zhang Bin and the Spanish Sandra Maunac. Entitled “Your Selfie Stick and you (你的自拍杆)”, 2017 Lianzhou Foto will investigate in the current state of the medium. This year festival will highlight the works of four authors: Zhuang Hui’s “Qilian range” series, Albert Watson’s personal photographs from his trip to China in 1979, Zhang Hai’er’s “Bad Girls” and.... a fourth one kept secret from us for now.