Art photography

China gets a big dose of fine art photography

China’s largest art photography fair opened in Shanghai this weekend. The event for the first time is called Photo Shanghai and features more than 500 works by photographers from around the world.

One of the exhibits attracting many Chinese visitors this weekend is that of photographer Zhang Kechun. One of the most striking images shows a Buddha’s head, about 40 feet tall, sitting in the middle of an open-cast coal mine.

“I think the Buddha is someone people revere,” says Ji Hexiang, a nurse who visits the exhibit and tries to interpret the image. “The Buddha’s head may be there to bless and protect the coal miners, to keep them safe and sound. On the other hand, these coal mine bosses pursue their own interests regardless of the cost. ”

Zhang, the photographer, suggests that Ji is on to something. Usually, coal mining barons are vilified in China. Many are seen as corrupt and greedy, often risking the safety of their workers and degrading the environment. Zhang says the owner of the coal mine became a monk and built a temple.

“They are digging for coal every day, and all of a sudden one day they realize that ‘What I’m doing is not very good’,” he says. “So they found a way to redeem themselves. So they chose to believe in Buddhism.”

Steven Harris, director and owner of the M97 gallery in Shanghai, says fine art photography did not appear in China until the late 1990s. In previous decades, the Communist Party mainly used photography as propaganda. .

“Compared to the West, the history and evolution of the medium of photography as a personal expression was null and void in the second half of the 20th century,” says Harris. “So we’re making up for a lot of lost time here.”

Alexander Montague-Sparey, director of Photo Shanghai, says a lot of people thought it was crazy to get into this project. They told him that the Chinese “would go around this fair for 10 minutes and they would be like, ‘What is this? “But he says a lot of visitors are interested in the works.

“There was such a dynamic response from the audience,” says Montague-Sparey. “They ask questions. They are so curious.”

The big question is whether this curiosity will translate into sales while the fine art photography market in China is still developing. Many visitors just seemed delighted to see so many quality photographs in one place.

An Na, a retired state-owned tire factory worker, recently bought a camera and dabbled in documentary street photography. She spent Friday scouring the exhibits.

“Of course, there is a lot to learn,” says An Na. “I can’t study them all today. I’ll be back tomorrow with some friends.”

Copyright 2018 NPR. To learn more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

LYNN NEARY, HOST:

China’s largest art photography fair was held in Shanghai over the weekend. The first event is called Photo Shanghai. It includes more than 500 works by photographers around the world as well as some of the most interesting in China. Frank Langfitt of NPR took a look and filed this report.

FRANK LANGFITT, BYLINE: One of the exhibits that has struck many Chinese visitors is that of a photographer named Zhang Kechun. And there are a bunch of pictures of the yellow river. There is one that is really striking. It is a head of Buddha. He must be 40 feet tall. And he’s sitting in the middle of an open-air coal mine.

JI HEXIANG: (Via translator) I feel like the Buddha is someone people revere.

LANGFITT: Ji Hexiang, who works as a nurse, tries to interpret the picture.

HEXIANG: (Via translator) Perhaps the head of Buddha is there to bless and protect the coal miners in order to keep them safe and sound. On the other hand, these coal mining bosses pursue their own interests regardless of the costs.

LANGFITT: Photographer Zhang suggests that Ji is on to something. Usually, coal mining barons are vilified in China. Many are seen as corrupt and greedy, often risking the safety of their workers and degrading the environment. Zhang says the owner of the coal mine became a monk and built a temple.

ZHANG KECHUN: (Via translator) They dig coal every day, and suddenly one day they realize that what I’m doing is not very good. So they found a way to redeem themselves. So they chose to believe in Buddhism.

STEVEN HARRIS: I’m Stephen Harris. I am the director and owner of the M97 gallery in Shanghai.

LANGFITT: Harris’ fine art photography did not appear in China until the late 1990s. In previous decades, the Communist Party mainly used photography as propaganda.

HARRIS: Compared to the West, the history and evolution of the medium of photography as a personal expression was sort of null and void for the second half of the 20th century. So we’ve made up a lot of lost time here.

ALEXANDER MONTAGUE-SPAREY: A lot of people told me when I started this project, you know, you’re completely crazy. The Chinese will go around this fair in 10 minutes, and they will be like, what is this?

LANGFITT: Alexander Montague-Sparey is the director of Photo Shanghai. He says that contrary to these concerns, many visitors are interested in the works.

MONTAGUE-SPAREY: It was such a dynamic response from the audience. They ask questions. They are so curious.

LANGFITT: However, whether curiosity will translate into sales is a big question. Many visitors just seemed delighted to see so many quality photographs in one place. One of them, An Na, is 54 and worked in a state-owned tire factory. She recently bought a camera and retired to documentary street photography. An Na spent Friday scrubbing the exhibits.

AN NA: (Speaking Chinese).

LANGFITT: Of course, there is a lot to learn, she says. I cannot study them all today. I am coming back tomorrow with friends. Frank Langfitt, NPR News, Shanghai. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.


Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *