In “Remember Me Like This,” the San Francisco-based artist Rachel Liu reproduced and manipulated family photographs taken during the Cultural Revolution (1966-76).
Read the exclusive interview with the British curator Simon Baker, the new Director of La Maison européenne de la photographie (MEP) in Paris.
Photography of China is the world’s leading online platform for contemporary Chinese photography, bringing together alternative visions of China and its history. Dr Malcolm McNeill discusses the project with founder Dr Marine Cabos-Brullé and photographer Guo Yingguang.
In “Promise for Your Happiness“ Lin Jingjing uses her practice to reflect on social conditions and the paradoxical realities of daily life - urgently questioning the apparent “benefits” of China’s economic escalation.
OCAT Institute is currently holding the exhibition “The Abode of Anamnesis”, which is the realization of “Picturing Histories: Historical Narratives in Contemporary Chinese Photography”, the winning proposal of OCAT’s inaugural Research-based Curatorial Project. After 3 months of planning and development, it opened to the public for the first time in March 2019.
As a writer and curator, He Yining has always been interested in the way in which photography is able to freely straddle the boundaries of contemporary art, responding to and raising questions about contemporary and historical social issues through effective, diverse, and interdisciplinary means; narrative theories in photography have also been a focus of her research in recent years. As part of her research project, the current exhibition revolves around practices based on contemporary photographic narratives; in addition to shedding light on the development and characteristics of the photographic medium in the context of postmodern visual narratives and pointing out the similarities and differences between the narrative functions of photography and other media, the exhibition also explores the complex relationship between history, memory, archive and photographic narratives.
In recent years, photographers around the globe have begun to break the conventional linear sequence in the construction of photographic texts, opting for a new wave that allows multiple narrative strategies of the real or the fictional. They fuse documents, historical photos, texts, and carefully-constructed images, taking viewers to times and places in the past, to boundaries that can or cannot be told. This kind of practice not only reflects the artists’ interest and urgent desire to delve into history, but also reveals the space that has been opened for photographic practices by the richness of social and cultural environments in history.
“The Abode of Anamnesis” focuses on several cases in Chinese contemporary art that enter historical narratives through photography. The exhibition seeks to analyse the context in which the current trend occurs, to examine the creative strategies adopted by different artists and to explore the unique viewpoint photography offers in the construction of historical narratives from different angles. By means of exploring histories of individuals and families, historical events, discussing varied historical episodes, or even reflecting on the theme of photography as a medium of historical narratives, the artists in this exhibition think of themselves as archaeologists and approach their subjects from various perspectives. While revisiting, rewriting, and reconstructing history, they have also been searching for more specific cultures.
Throughout the exhibition, a variety of forums, workshops, talks and other events are held in the spirit of promoting cross-media and cross-disciplinary research on theories of visual narratives. An exhibition catalogue containing the contents of the aforementioned events will be published by the end of the exhibition.
About the Curator
HE Yining (born. 1986), curator and writer of photography. Graduate of London College of Communication, University of the Arts London. In 2010, she began to work as a curator, translator, and writer specializing in photography and visual culture. Her work is principally focused on the way in which photography is able to freely straddle the boundaries of contemporary art, responding to and raising questions about contemporary and historical social issues through effective, diverse, and interdisciplinary means. Yining's exhibitions have been held in museums, art museums and galleries, and other institutions in China and Europe. Her publications include "Photography in the British Classroom," and "The Port and the Image," among others. Further information and detailed descriptions of her work can be found on her website, www.heyining.com.
The Abode of Anamnesis
Until June 09, 2019
OCAT Institute, Jinchanxilu, Chaoyang District, Beijing (100 meters North from Subway Line 7 Happy Valley Scenic Area Station Exit B)
TACA SUI: GROTTO HEAVENS
Chambers Fine Art is pleased to announce the opening of Taca Sui: Grotto Heavens. This is the artist’s third solo exhibition at the gallery. In the five years since his first exhibition, Odes (2013), Taca has traveled extensively throughout China in search of remote locations that resonate in Chinese history through their association with important religious and philosophical traditions. In Odes, he presented a body of work that was inspired by the ancient poetic heritage of China, specifically the Book of Odes (Shi Jing). Laden down with his heavy equipment, like pioneering photographers of the nineteenth century he traveled to remote locations that were associated with these ancient lyrics, photographing landscapes and evocative details that were remarkable for their poetic intensity.
During the next two years in preparation for the exhibition Steles: Huang Yi Project (2015), his theme was the stone steles that have played such a crucial role in the documentation of the history of China. Here he was inspired by the late Qing dynasty imperial bureaucrat Huang Yi (1744 – 1802) who in his leisure time was also a dedicated amateur archaeologist. In planning his own trips, Taca consulted Huang Yi’s diaries, Diary on Visiting Steles near Mount Song and the Luo River and Diary on Visiting Historical Steles from Jining to Tai’an.
In 2017, Taca embarked on yet another extended journey, this time in search of the grotto-heavens that with the Five Great Mountains occupy a primordial position within the sacred geography of China. Described by scholar Franciscus Verellen as “places of refuge, initiation, and of transcendental passage, paradisial microcosms,” these sacred sites (dongtian) were particularly important in Daoist ritual and cosmography, and were first mentioned in the revelations of Shangqing around 360 CE. They were organized systematically in the Tang dynasty (618-907 CE) by Sima Chengzhen (647-735) and Du Guangting (850-933) and are now divided into two categories, the ten greater grotto heavens and the thirty - six lesser grotto heavens.
Now that he has learnt how to drive, Taca was away from his home in Beijing for many months, visiting the Mausoleum of the King of Chu, Songshan Mountain, and Zhongtiao Mountian Wangwu in Henan province; Shangluo, Taibai Mountain, Qinling, Ankang and Hangzhong in Shaanxi province; and Yichang, Shiyan, Shennongjia, and Enshi in Hubei Province. Two more expeditions are planned in the future to complete his survey.
The exhibition is divided into two parts, one of which is devoted to the caves in which the grottoes are situated and the other to a new iteration of his Steles project. In the black and white photographs that convey the poetry of the caves, the mysterious interiors suggest the sense of awe they inspired in the pilgrims who visited them in full expectation of achieving powerful insights into another world. Using a contemporary analogy, Taca has compared these grotto heavens to wormholes, passageways through space-time that theoretically would permit journeys as mysterious as those achieved in grotto-heavens. Presented in a smaller scale at one end of the gallery, Taca revisits his Steles: Huang Yi Project, this time focusing on one specific image from the original set of photographs, entitled Stele by Zheng Jixuan. Dividing the image into 35 individual sections, each part is presented as a separate photograph, appearing as semi-abstracted landscapes themselves, or ‘bird’s eye view’ images of mountain terrain.
Among contemporary photographers of his generation Taca is unusual in his overriding interest China as it used to be, not as it exists today. There are virtually no references to the present or even the recent past, the exceptions being the occasional appearance of forlorn relics of past devotional practices left behind in these caves. Far from being a documentary photographer, however, bringing back reports from remote areas, he uses photography as a way of establishing a rapport between his own unique vision and the sparse evidence he finds in his travels of long-gone and largely forgotten practices, far from the concerns of the great majority of the inhabitants of a newly prosperous China. His preference for the unassuming and the overlooked, the acceptance of impermanence, can be compared with the concept of wabi-sabi which played such an important role in the development of Japanese aesthetics.
Taca’s work has entered the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Asia Pacific Museum in Pasadena, CA.
PIXY LIAO: OPEN KIMONO
Chambers Fine Art is pleased to announce the opening of Pixy Liao: Open Kimono. This is the artist’s first solo exhibition with the gallery. Born and raised in Shanghai, China, Pixy Liao received her MFA in photography from the University of Memphis in 2008. It was within this completely new and foreign environment that she first began working as an artist, exploring everyday life in Memphis through a series of ‘American landscapes’. It was also in Memphis that she met her boyfriend-turned-muse Moro – inspiring the body of work that she has become best known for, called Experimental Relationship. The ongoing project is a staged documentation of their relationship, now spanning over 12 years, in which Liao creates various intimate, playful, and witty tableaux that often place her in a position of power over Moro, in a subtle reversal of gender roles.
The artist states, “As a woman brought up in China, I used to think I could only love someone who is older and more mature than me, who can be my protector and mentor. Then I met my current boyfriend, Moro. Since he is 5 years younger than me, I felt that whole concept of relationships changed, all the way around. I became the person who has more authority & power.” Open Kimono presents a selection from the latest iteration of Experimental Relationship, with most of the photographs on view taken in 2018 while the couple were traveling through their home countries China and Japan. As the title of the exhibition suggests, several of the images portray both artist and muse in traditional Japanese dress, although the intimate settings and sensual imagery take their inspiration from Japanese female Yakuza films rather than feudal Japan.
Alongside her photographs, Liao presents a new series of Risographs that were created during a recent residency at the School of Visual Arts (SVA) in New York. Risographs take their name from the Riso Kagaku Corporation, which manufactured a digital duplicator that automated a printing process similar to silk screen printing. It was released in Japan in 1986. Liao embraced the unpredictable method of printing, deconstructing the imagery from her existing photos into simple lines of color, experimenting with offset printing and a simplified color palette.
Located at one end of the gallery is a golden ladder on which visitors can climb to view Liao’s installation Temple for Her. The piece is a part of the artist’s larger conceptual series "Evil Women Cult", an imaginary cult that worships all of the “evil female leaders” in history. This particular piece is dedicated to Wu Zetian (624-705 CE), the only female emperor in the history of China. Within Liao’s miniature ‘temple’ is a pool of blood within the shape of a woman, a red staircase, a phallic throne, a pair of golden rolling eyes and a Chinese character Wu created for herself as her name, Zhao, which is a combination of two characters: "clear" and "sky." The temple is inspired by the lonely path the Empress took on her way to the pinnacle of power. The miniature format for this installation was created in conjunction with Flyweight, a bookshelf-sized project space located within the home of artists Clare Torina and Jesse Cesario, and has been re-staged for this exhibition.
Pixy Liao is a recipient of NYFA Fellowship in photography, Santo Foundation Individual Artist Award, Jimei x Arles International Photo Festival Madame Figaro Women Photographers Award, En Foco's New Works Fellowship and LensCulture Exposure Awards. She has been a resident at University of Arts London, Pioneer Works, Light Work, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Center for Photography at Woodstock, and Camera Club of New York. Liao’s photographs have been exhibited internationally, including He Xiangning Art Museum (China), Museum of Sex (NY), and Asia Society (Houston). She currently lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.
Both exhibitions until April 27, 2019
Chambers Fine Art
522 West 19th Street, New York, NY 10011, USAUntil April 27, 2019
223@in)(between record vol 39
The works of No.223 - Saturated Colours, Fashionable Nudity, Reality and Escapism, Melancholy and Playful Sexuality -
Lin Zhipeng (aka No.223), born in Guangdong in 1979, is a leading figure of new Chinese photography emerging in the last decade. Over 20 years ago Lin Zhipeng named himself “No. 223” in social media networks, the name he adopted was that of the fascinating character of the young police detective in Wong Kar-Wai’s movie Chungking Express 1994. One could say that 223 also carries a sense of the Hongkonger director’s poetic and picturesque camera work, a colorful atmosphere with loneliness and mystery like in many of Wong Kar-Wai’s film’s characters. With his nude and semi-nude photographs 223 reveals the unmasked nudity of his characters and props, Documentary Photography and Concept Photography, Reality and Escapism both far from that repetitive superficial nude photography that has invaded the world.
With his story line 223 discloses that counterculture essence of youth – Young People indulging in love and life, interchanging passages of melancholy and playful sexuality – a story line apart not only from the socially imposed conservativeness and indifferences of his homeland but from the western perception of what today’s Chinese youth is. His story line discloses nudity’s empowering presence and vulnerability.
For this exhibition in)(between gallery invited Pierre Bessard from Éditions Bessard to cocurate the show. It is not accidentally that the gallery invited Pierre: he had published books of 223 and Ren Hang, offering the west a chance to get acquainted with two of the best contemporary Chinese photographers. Pierre knew both of them, 223 and the departed Ren Hang, equally well, Pierre not only published fantastic books for them but acted as a benchmark of their artistic presence in the west and still promotes their works today.
For the show Pierre Bessard - Éditions Bessard - and Luigi Clavareau - in)(between gallery – teaming with 223 selected 55 photographs, some included in the two books published by Pierre (Sour Strawberries-2018 and Hidden Track-2016) but mainly unpublished oeuvres from 2007-2018.
223 refined his photographic signature long before Ren Hang started photography. He started photographing in the early 2000’s, with street photography, some of those memorable works are the shots from an old airport – maybe by chance it was that a friend asked him to photograph her and soon after that 223 walked into what would define his photographic signature – his artistic photography – using film as his medium since 2004 and his friends and his own life as subjects.
With his works he chases freedom, yet what he finds in China is not real freedom, censorship in China constricts him to only show his fashionable explicit nude artworks in some galleries without public disclosure of his artistic statement against the forced censorship or socially imposed conservativeness, a reality that deprives him of the right to publications and social media exposure of his OEuvrage , as he says “I have to obey the law in China”. Yet publications such Sour Strawberries-2018 and Hidden Track-2016 from Editions Bessard and the few exhibition 223 had had in the west including 223 @in)(between somewhat had found him an addition to the artistic freedom he does not have in China, artistic freedom to show both his documented reality by using his friends and personal life as subjects as documentary photography and his escapism encompassed in his Concept Photography.
223 says “It’s ignorant to compare me to Ren Hang” – suggested reading interview for SLEEK Art and Photography in August 2018. This exhibitions supports his words and aims to provide 223 with one more opportunity to continue showing his works in Paris, as he did in 2018 in his eccentric exhibition curated by Anna Mistal - No.223@GrandAmour , Grand Amour Hotel, Paris, 2018.
223 @ in)(between record vol 39
in)(between Gallery, 39 rue Chapon, 75003 Paris
Until 13 April 2019
Liu Yuyang’s series “The Newer New Frontier” aims to explore how policies impact a region on ancient Silk Road and its local residents and, and discuss if it's possible to solve a tense social problem with an economical way.
“LOVE, Ren Hang”
Venue: Maison Européenne de la Photographie (MEP)
Dates: 06.03.2019 - 26.05.2019
“LOVE, Ren Hang”, the first ever institutional exhibition in France of the work of the photographer Ren Hang, honours the memory of one of the most influential Chinese artists of his generation, who died tragically at the age of 29.
Ren Hang’s work has been exhibited in many galleries around the world and regularly published in fashion magazines including Purple and Numero. After his suicide in 2017, he left behind a wide-ranging body of work that is presented in the exhibition “LOVE, REN HANG”, which deals with all aspects of his artistic practice, from photography to books and self-published texts. Presented for the first time in a French institution - in Paris, a city he loved - 150 photographs selected by the MEP from European and Chinese collections allow us to assess the scope of his outstanding corpus.
Ren Hang’s audacious work explores the relationship between identity and sexuality, and because it was produced in China, its subversive tone had an all the more destabilising effect. His work, which has often been censored or deemed pornographic by the Chinese authorities - even though Ren Hang often stated that it did not set out to challenge the political establishment - remains, with respect to a repressive context, the expression of a yearning for creative freedom, freshness and impulsiveness. His unique vision is clearly influenced by “cynical realism”, a Chinese artistic movement rooted in the events that took place in Tiananmen Square in 1989.
Ren Hang’s instantly recognisable work is mainly composed of portraits and landscapes often within the naked bodies of his male and female models. He worked with people close to him - his friends and his mother - and with young Chinese people he reached out to online. He produced his emblematic images in the confined space of his apartment or in the outdoor spaces of the city. Although his photographs appear staged, they are the result of a spontaneous and instinctive process, and their candidness imbues them with poetry and humour.
The exhibition occupies the second-floor gallery of the MEP. The layout does not present the artist’s work series by series, but instead places the different facets of his work side by side, as he did during his lifetime. Adopting a partly chromatic matic approach, it takes the visitor through the artist’s worlds: in one area red predominates, while elswhere other acid colours prevail; one room is devoted to his mother, while another, darker space presents his night photography. The last room features a selection of more “daring” works focusing on the body, creating a powerful, organic connection between eroticism and nature.
The show is also a chance to discover a less well-known facet of Ren Hang’s art, namely the editorial and poetic works that he produced in parallel with his photography. He posted his poems on a regularly updated website (now defunct); most of them are presented in this exhibition. They are chiefly meditations on his struggle with depression. “If life is a bottomless chasm, when I jump the endless fall will also be a way of flying”, he wrote.
There is a strong connection between the works of Ren Hang and those of Coco Capitán, who felt a powerful kinship with the Chinese artist. Although they never met, they wrote to one another. The fact that their work is being presented simultaneously at the MEP is thus no mere coincidence: together they provide an alternative view of the intersecting trajectories of fashion, performance, text, and highly original approaches to the photographic image.
“The Bliss of Conformity”
Venue: Maison Européenne de la Photographie (MEP)
Dates: 20.04.2019 - 26.05.2019
True to its commitment to showcase international emerging talents, the MEP presents “The Bliss of Conformity”, a series by the Chinese artist Yingguang Guo combining photography, video, installation and book.
Yingguang Guo first came to public attention in 2017 when she was awarded the Prix Madame Figaro Chine – Jimei Arles for this very series. This is her first exhibition in an institutional setting in Paris.
Yingguang Guo focuses on contemporary China, here specifically the experiences of young women who enter arranged marriages. The series exhibited at the MEP, “The Bliss of Conformity”, was taken in the People’s Park in Shanghai, where there is an area used as a marketplace by parents seeking spouses for their children, by posting ads in the hope of finding a suitable match.
Yingguang Guo explains that the question of marriage is a central feature of daily life in China. As a student at the London College of Communication, she began to take an interest in the “weight of conformity” that bears down on these young Chinese women. As she experienced European culture first hand, she began to reflect upon the value assigned to women in her own culture.
In addition to the exhibition in the Studio, there is a specially designed virtual exhibition on the MEP website. Its format offers a range of different angles of interpretation for “The Bliss of Conformity”. This online project is unveiled on the MEP’s website starting March 6, 2019.
Born in Liaoning, China, in 1983, Yingguang Guo studied first at the Communication University of China, then at the London College of Communication. She has collaborated with various media and press agencies such as China Daily and Reuters. Little by little, she moved away from a purely documentary process to turn towards a more inter-disciplinary style: photography with engraving, drawing, video, and performance.
More information: www.mep-fr.org
From Dusk Till Dawn
«Life here is different from anywhere else, and it’s really interesting, especially for foreigners like me who is working here. “From Dusk Till Dawn” portrays life in the most populous nation on Earth from the intimate perspective of an outsider looking in. From military drills and wigs displayed in salon windows to homeless men asleep on park benches, the series captures fleeting moments of everyday life.»
Language: Ukrainian, English, Chinese
Number of pages: 88
Parameters: 180 х 220 mm
Design: Olexandr Bychenko
ISBN series: 978-617-7482-00-9
Series title: Contemporary Ukrainian Photographers Series
Rodovid Press Publishing
«The second hour of our journey at this train. Ahead are another 16 or 17 hours, I dоn’t remember. Behind us someone has already opened a bottle of Chinese stinky vodka, from which it becomes bad even from the smell, someone is going to pour boiling water to make some noodles. Someone plays a movie that it sounds on the whole car, and someone eats seeds so loudly, that it is simply impossible to hear your own thoughts. In addition, around you can hear a million of dialogs, and you can hear them, because everyone is screaming. At such times, you feel happy that you don’t know Chinese language, because you could go crazy.
We do not have a bed here, so we had to take sitting places. Yes, it’s uncomfortable for us, it’s completely inconvenient to sleep, because the back of the chair is not tilted back, but on you. Legs have to be put on your suitcase, that the knees in this position support the chin. Hot. Very hot. There are twice as many people in the car as it is supposed to be. But this is nothing, many people in this and the nearest wagons do not even have such luxury, they go without seats. The most interesting thing is that the price of a ticket with a seat and without it is the same. Why does the government, knowing that because of such a large amount of people, they are still willing to take a ticket without a seat and go 10, 20, 30 hours sitting in the car vestibule or standing, leaning their head on the window and trying to sleep, do not reduce the cost of this kind of ticket? This fact remains unknown.
I take my action camera and go for a walk on the train. Going through a huge number of people, I try to take pictures. Here is the woman sitting right in the aisle, putting her head on her knees, that people have to step over her. And here is the child who was put under the seat, so that he could fall asleep. In the car vestibule there are about 15 people – somebody is standing, somebody is sitting on the suitcase, and some of them climbed onto the sink near the toilet and is sleeping on it. Everyone smokes, smokes a lot. I’m taking pictures. Only just when I got into the train, I already knew that it would be a new series of photos, a series about these people.
Who are they all and where are they going at such a price? Why don’t they wait for the opportunity to purchase a ticket with a seat and go with comfort? Only God knows. Here such they are – ‘passengers’.»
Language: Ukrainian, English
Bonus – video (in description)
More information: melnitchenko.com