The year 2019 marks the fifteenth year of Lianzhou’s photographic journey. Since 2005, the festival has gained international recognition as the most professional photography festival in
China. In 2017 this ambition has been taken on by the Lianzhou Museum of Photography that opened in the city’s historical centre, granting China its first public institution devoted to the medium.
This year we commemorate this anniversary with a series of exhibitions and public programmes. In fall the LMP will celebrate new talents with exhibitions from Chinese, American and Spanish emerging photographers. Meanwhile the theme of Lianzhou Foto festival’s fifteenth edition
‘A Chance for the Unpredictable’ will pay homage to photography’s practice and malpractice with an international theme exhibition under the curatorship of Peter Pfrunder. Alongside the theme exhibition will be over 50 solo and group shows presenting local and overseas talents. The festival opening on November 29 will coincide with the unveiling of LMP’s four winter exhibitions. During the opening week, Lianzhou will become a platform for discussion for Chinese and international photographers, curators, journalists, academics and enthusiasts.
2005-2019 : LIANZHOU’S PHOTOGRAPHIC JOURNEY
Lianzhou Foto Festival was founded fifteen years ago in Lianzhou, a mountain town in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong. Each year, Chinese and international photography lovers gather to participate in a curated program of discussions, portfolio reviews and audiovisual events. Tens of thousands of visitors attend over sixty exhibitions showcasing photographers from all over the world in refurbished industrial spaces. In fifteen years, the festival has gained international recognition as the most professional photography festival in China. It has been instrumental in working towards the institutionalization of photography in China offering the platform it lacked for exhibition, exchange and discussion around the medium. Each year Lianzhou Foto strives to push the boundaries of photography exhibitions, showcasing experimental work beyond traditional documentary practice. During every edition the punctum award celebrates the most challenging new talents and discoveries elected by a jury of experts in the field.
Lianzhou Foto has been instrumental in bringing forward local emerging talents on the international scene. The festival featured among many other Chinese photographers : Zhang Hui, Ren Hang, Zhang Haier, Feng Li, Lu Guang, Liu Bolin, Wang Qingsong, Zhang Dali, Adou, Li Zhengde, Yan Ming and Wang Ningde.
Over the years it has introduced established and emerging artists to the local public providing a panoramic view of what is going on in photography. In its fifteen years, the festival showcased among others the work of Joan Fontcuberta, Michael Wolf, Daido Moriyama, Juno Calypso, Jean Baudrillard, Martin Parr, Mathieu Pernot, Araki Nobuyoshi and Mohamed Bourouissa.
A CHANCE FOR THE UNPREDICTABLE
This year we invited Swiss Foundation for Photography Director Peter Pfrunder to collaborate to Lianzhou Foto’s fifteenth edition. To celebrate this anniversary edition, the theme chosen by our guest curator is an hommage to photography, its practice and malpractice. The local and international artists to be featured in the theme exhibition explore the uncontrollable aspects and the unpredictable elements that leave their traces on the photographic image.
Photography is closely linked to the idea of control, it is often about carefully composing images, adjusting camera settings, staging simulations of reality in the studio in an attempt to ward off the unexpected. In contrast the photographers featured in the theme exhibition explore the tension between controlling the image and capturing the unexpected, between conscious perception and the unseen. Their work embrace the uncontrollable unpredictable happenings as part of the beauty, the poetry and the magic of photography.
The series ‘Trapped’ by Swiss artist Alex Hanimann is based on snapshots of animals, mostly taken at night by automatically triggered ‘camera traps’. The work of Chinese artist duo Liu Ke and Huang Huang, who have been systematically taking each other’s picture, is an ode to indirect portraiture, the uncontrollable ways you appear in the partner’s eye behind the camera. The unpredictability of human activity is also at the center of Japanese photographer Hayahisa Tomiyasu’s work (JPN) and guides in a more personal way the self portraits on edge of Korean photographer Jun Ahn (KOR), The ‘Happenstance Generator’ of the British Artist Clare Strand (UK) is a wonderful metaphor that makes the universe of images appear as a result of uncontrollable and unpredictable processes. A growing number of artists also experiment with the materiality of photography: they expose their analogue films or prints to physical and chemical influences, so that the transformation of the image becomes part of the final work. In this way, Delio Jasse (ANG) explores the link between memory and the latent image and artists like Ester Vonplon (CH), Seba Kurtis (ARG) or Anna Niskanen (FIN) manage to visualize an invisible reality, to open a window for the unconscious.
‘A Chance for the Unpredictable’ is a fascinating topic with many options for subtle comments on the current state of our world – it is implicitly political by focusing on a genuinely photographic subject. And we need it more than ever as an antidote to rationality, efficiency and predictability.
Along the Theme Exhibition, the fifteenth edition of Lianzhou Foto Festival will showcase over 50 international photographers including solo exhibitions from Chinese artists such as Zhang Wei, Zeng Han, Chen Ronghui, Chen Zhuo, Wei Bi, Lau Chi-Chung, Doreen Chan, Zhang Yunmin, Kanthy Peng, Guo Yanxin, Wang Hanlin, Liang Yinfei, Oyun_erdene and many more.
Like each year, we will also invite guest curators to present group exhibitions as part of our programme. MoCP Chicago Director Natasha Egan, will curate ‘Living Mountains’ a group show presenting the work of American women photographers exploring Man’s relationship with Nature. The exhibition will showcase the work of artists Penelope Umbrico, Alice Hargrave, Beth Dow, Jin Lee, Millee Tibbs and Abbey Hepner.
On November 29 and the following days, we will celebrate the start of the anniversary edition and the unveiling of LMP’s winter exhibitions with a curated programme of discussions, portfolio reviews and audiovisual events.