“Follow_Me – New narratives in contemporary photography” will be presented at OCAT Shanghai on June 19, inviting 10 young photographers from China and Switzerland. The exhibition features works using the language of photography to build layers of overlapping narrations. The two curators of this exhibition, Peter Pfrunder and Shi Hantao, have observed and studied contemporary photographic practices in China and Switzerland over a long period of time.
They have discovered that the practice in these two respective countries unfold their narrative through the medium of photography, whereby to build an imaginary reality with its documentary and fictional qualities. This is also a commonality in contemporary photography. On the one hand, narration as humanity’s most ancient means to record and self-express, continue to search for linguistic and formal conduit in various artistic mediums.
Since the birth of photography, photographic narrative has developed its own unique history, one that has not faded with the changing times, where we continue to find photographic developments that is unique to each time period and in the individual’s expression. On the other hand, as social media become part of our everyday lives, users of these media portals become the storyteller of their own lives that further collapses the grand narrative, as the massive micro-narratives conjure together to convey the new condition of humanity. Therefore, the exhibition does not only invite the viewer to “listen to me” – telling the stories of the others; but also sending an invitation to “follow me” for the viewer to become the narrator of their own stories.
Although these participating artists unfold their narrative on the basis of photographic vernacular, their forms of expression and techniques adopted differ with various modes of narration, expanding from still photography, moving images, projection, light box, to objects and etc., all of which are intertwined together to constitute the indispensible component of their stories.
The exhibition is divided into four sections. Part one addresses the issue of identity, in which artists David Favrod, Kimisa and Salvatore Vitale use photography to ask questions of “Who am I?” in their biographical stories; in part two, Liu Wei, Anne Golaz and Zeng Yicheng expand on an important location of their life experience to recollect and enquire; in part three, Celine Liu and Romain Mader blur the boundary between fiction and documentary through role-playing; and the last part of the exhibition takes on an archaeological angle, for which Virginie Rebetez and Shi Zhen adopts the “unreliable” evidence of film records to explore personal and collective memories.
June 18, Opening forum
July 1, Talk
“I” through the lens: Family photography and memory building
Kiki Tianqi Yu, Associate professor, Film Studies, Cultural and Creative Industry, University of Southern California, filmmaker and producer
July 15-16, Workshop
Yan You, independent publisher, founder of “Jiazazhi”, devoted many years in the discovery of young photographers.
July 29, Talk
The cultural politics of “documentary” – On the “artistic documentaries” of the 1950s
Tang Weijie, Associate professor of Humanities studies, Professor of comparative literature at Tongji University
August 12, Talk
Tracking narrative: The conceptual art practice of Sophie Calle
btr, writer, translator and critic
September 9, Curator’s Guided Tour & Special Event
More information: Swiss Art Council website