LIANZHOU MUSEUM OF PHOTOGRAPHY
In 2017, the Lianzhou Museum of Photography was established in the city’s historical centre, as the first public institution in China devoted to the medium. The museum is a continuation and an extension of the project carried out by Lianzhou Foto festival since 2005 in the mountain town of Lianzhou in the Chinese province of Guangdong. The museum has taken on the ambition of Lianzhou Foto festival and intends to provide the public with an education, a panoramic view of what is going on in photography and to offer artists the chance to grasp the universal use of the medium.
This fall the LMP will celebrate new talents with exhibitions from Chinese, American and Spanish emerging photographers. American photographer
Haley Morris-Cafiero is part performer, part artist, part provocateur, part spectator. She explores the act of reflection in her photography. As an ex-anorexic with a high BMI, she is subject to jokes and hate speech. She collects them. Her work is set up so that she only discovers the multitude of judgements and acts that brand her after the fact.
Zhao Qian is a visual artist living in San Francisco and Shanghai. He focuses on human activities and the environment around him. His work explores the territories of contemporary visual culture and daily life and map a field guide to navigate the blurred lines between experience and imagination.
Rubén Martín de Lucas develops a body of work focusing on what the Spanish artist calls: ‘landscape and associated behavior’. Under this heading there is a discursive line that questions the behavior of humanity and its links with the territory studying aspects such as the artificial character of the borders and the liquid nature of the concept of nation.
Wang Yishu, who lives and works in Zhejiang and Shanghai, once worked as one of the top photojournalists in Chinese media. This allowed him to travel across China, from metropolitan cities to remote villages, capturing images along the way. While the media’s focus was on pursuing clear stories with affecting narratives and striking effects, Yishu’s interest lay in exploring ordinary situations and how they conveyed the complexities of human existence.
This winter, the LMP will present four new exhibitions showcasing the works of Chinese and overseas artists.
Birdhead: Welcome to the Birdhead World Again/2019/Lianzhou re-invites the audience to enter the «Birdhead World». Since their first exhibition in Lianzhou in 2005, Birdhead has become
one of the most elusive artists in China. Their unbounded exploration of creative materials and unrestrained production have forged an astronomical matrix of images from which the practice of oriental approaches is probed into.
A constant in the work of French artist Denis Darzacq is his way of making a remarkable object from nothing, taking everyday materials of no great importance and bringing them together to create emotional, ageless objects with multiple references. Photography injects life, fueled by its energy. The innocuous becomes a work of art.
As the main industry in Zhang Xiao’s hometown, apples are cultivated in every family, and most people’s life revolves around apples. In this exhibition, Zhang Xiao continues to meditate on the experience and reality of his hometown Yantai. He intertwines the complicated treads through the apple, a specific object closely related to the local people, and presents the rural status quo in China under the background of apple industrialization.
The practice of Indian artist Sukanya Ghosh is located within the range of painting, photography, animation and film, exploring the possibilities between still and moving images. She uses found images and appropriates them through engraving, drawing, visual and sound collage. The resulting souvenir scrapbook recounts the history of a nation interwoven with personal memories.
WELCOME TO BIRDHEAD WORLD AGAIN/2019/LIANZHOU
The ”Birdhead World” is one of eccentric image makers. The world of two fanatics obsessed and revolted by the Photographic eye. Their camera lens frantically swallows the world surrounding them, as if trying desperately to seize fleeting moments, to comprehend an unescapable void.
Although photography is one of their emotional outlets, it proved early on unable to fully satisfy their craving. Passionate, they are always experimenting, moving forward like heroic warriors fiddling over and over with all sorts of strange materials: ink, paint, wood, resin, iron, nails, fur… They are competing with themselves, pushing the boundaries within which they are confined. In their project, «Tang and Song Poetry», they have devised a new way to look at the world through a boundless matrix of images, a unique layout drawing from an oriental approach rather than Western art traditions. Their design is not simply a way to distinguish themselves, it is a process in constant evolution, a promise for more discoveries to come.
Birdhead is undeniably the most elusive artists in Chinese contemporary photography today. Since their first exhibition in Lianzhou in 2005, they have always stayed true to themselves in a way that cannot be defined outside their own world. “The Birdhead World” is Birdhead themselves. For we know Birdhead is of that restless kind, fueled by a burning creative energy, always forging new paths to explore.
Text: Duan Yuting
THE VISIBLE WOMAN
The name Adolphe Quételet is not instantly recognisable. However, the Belgian royal astronomer came up with a statistical analysis that was to have disastrous consequences. In 1832, the scholar shifted his attention away from the stars to present a paper on “Man’s weight at different ages” to the Belgian Science Academy. For the first time ever, weight was analysed quantitatively. The normalisation of the body, that was already underway in industry and the army, now had an extra tool. Quételet’s index, that was to become the BMI (body mass index), became the norm. He was obsessed with the operating concept of mean values and came up with a reference model of the “average man”. Since then, the western world has aspired to normality, attempting to impose these criteria on everyone. The body became a morally measurable object, providing the foundation for the authority of the onlooker.
While the index allows doctors, nutritionists, dieticians and psychologists to prescribe treatments, we must ask ourselves the same question as Haley Morris Cafiero: what is behind this normalisation? The answer is the terrorism of statistical abstraction and value-based judgement. The fear of the gaze of others. Between the others and Haley herself, this gaze is an index of rejection. We exist through the gaze and judgement of others and her body concentrates all of contemporary society’s anxiety – a fact of which she is fully aware.
Haley Morris-Cafiero is an ex-anorexic with a high BMI and for this, she is subject to jokes and hate speech. She collects them. On social media from Times Square to Paris, other peoples’ good taste is very obvious. It oscillates between revulsion and fascination. The general consensus demands that Haley Morris-Cafiero conform to accepted standards of beauty. Her non-conformist body attracts and crystallises stigmatisations as a concept, subject and provocation all in one. Her work is set up so that she only discovers the multitude of judgements and acts that brand her after the fact. “Wait Watchers” forces us to confront our reliance on models of temperance as guides and our own capacity to exclude. Social media has unleashed itself against Haley Morris-Cafiero. She doesn’t care and in “The Billy pulpit”, she faces cyber-bullying head-on, parodying its animosity. She imitates her detractors, flaunting their insults and, in doing so, turns their hatred around.
Haley Morris-Cafiero’s work is now recognised worldwide. We should celebrate the dignity of her performance and its apparent lightness, as hers is an approach where the “I” is not a “refusal of the self”, on the contrary, it is the affirmation of an individual, social and artistic stance.
Text : François Cheval
ZHANG XIAO : APPLE
Many of Zhang Xiao’s early works were grand narrative projects inspired by geography. He recorded mundane life through his snapshots. His images were endowed with a sense of surrealism because of the absurdity generated in the rapidly developing China. As in “They” and “Coastline”, Zhang Xiao captured the subtle relationship between social reality and the state of individuals under the historical context. In the following years, Zhang Xiao shifted his focus to the hometown, concentrated on the specific region and people related to his personal experience, and completed works like “Shift”, “Elder Sister”, and “Sweet Love”. Through these works, he explored the complexity of China’s rural society across various dimensions and applied different medium beyond photography with the creative process.
“In 1871, American missionary John Livingston Nevius and his wife brought the western apple seedlings collected from the United States and Europe to Yantai and planted them in the southeast foothills of Yuhuangding Mountain, named after Guangxing Orchard. A new era of apple cultivation in China started. ”
As the main industry in Zhang Xiao’s hometown, apples are cultivated in every family, and most people’s life revolves around apples. In this exhibition, Zhang Xiao continues to meditate on the experience and reality of his hometown Yantai. He intertwines the complicated treads through apple, a specific object closely related to the local people, and presents the rural status quo in China under the background of apple industrialization.
LMP EXHIBITION CREDITS
Exhibitions were organized by the Lianzhou Museum of Photography (LMP).
Curators: Duan Yuting (Wang Yishu, Zhao Qian, Birdhead, Zhang Xiao) ; François Cheval and Audrey Hoareau (Haley Morris-Cafiero, Rubén Martín de Lucas, Sukanya Ghosh, Denis Darzacq).