JIMEI ARLES 2017 International Photo Festival
JIMEI ARLES 2017 International Photo Festival Catalogue
On the Edge of the Abyss
Postmodern difference theory upholds the value of difference and diversity while rejecting the discourse of power as a result of homogeneity; since the 1970s, it has not only been seen as the cornerstone of cultural studies, but also been used and digested by artists all over the world, who have in turn transformed it into critical artistic practices, covering such complex and diverse themes as class, race, gender and cultural identity.
A red thread goes through a piece of paper that has been intentionally folded and unfolded, evoking a sense of fragility and pain that emanates from the creases and bleeds into the photographs based on the image—artist Guo Yingguang takes inspiration from Albrecht von Haller, who once said the skin “is regarded as a kind of medium isolating the external and the internal”, and combines this theory with visual practices, thereby representing the shared experience of private and public life through depictions of physical traces left on paper.
The Bliss of Conformity is a photography-based mixed-media series that combines elements of video, installation and artist’s book. In this work, Guo Yingguang explores arranged marriages in China and the emotionally-distant coexistence between arranged couples from both abstract and concrete viewpoints. Starting from her own individual experience and the contemporary social experience at large, Guo Yingguang combines documentary photography and creative artistic practices to create carefully constructed, highly contrasted visual structures that challenge stereotypical notions of women in a complex socio-cultural consciousness.
In response to her continued reflections on gender differences, Guo Yingguang chooses the matchmaking corner in People’s Park, Shanghai as her main creation field. In addition to photographing daily scenes and details of personal adds at the matchmaking corner, she also records her own experience with matchmaking through performance acts. In contrast to documentary photography, Guo uses photo-etching techniques to create a series of abstract images that reveal the turbulent truths of arranged marriages beneath the seemingly calm surface depicted by peaceful images of the park, such as traditional intergenerational relationships and views of marriage, as well as discrimination against the so-called “left-over women”. At the same time, Guo’s artist’s book is created in a global context, aiming to construct multi-layered interconnections between time and space and to express emotions through compositional arrangements. By the use of these artistic practices, the artist is able to explore the problems faced by educated women as individuals in the reality of the contemporary Chinese society, revealing a feminist’s conflicting standpoint under the influences of traditional ethics, politico-economic social transitions and individual life experiences.
While Guo Yingguang’s work is mainly concerned with problems of arranged marriages in China, artist Jiang Yuxin chooses to focus on the issue of identity differences. A graduate of the University of Westminster with a MA in Photographic Studies, Jiang follows in the footsteps of British photography theorist Victor Burgin in his interests in image and intertextuality and the way he integrates postmodern theories into photographic practices. Jiang is especially good at combining images, objects and texts in real-life arrangements. Her work is based on a tremendous amount of research in the fields of psychoanalysis and postmodern cultural studies, and it encourages viewers to activate artworks through their own readings and to reconsider the meaning of familiar concepts found in everyday life.
Jiang Yuxin’s latest work, 3 Encounters, 7 Buildings, and 2500 Grains of Rice, is inspired by her own encounters with identity differences while studying abroad in London. The minute and subtle details ingrained in everyday conversations and life experiences moved her to question the stereotypical differentiation of identities through nationalization. From the intercultural “Chinese” objects and product images the artist has encountered while living abroad , to the section planes of various Chinese establishments hidden in the streets of London, and finally to the materials derived from instances of embarrassment or being ignored as a result of identity differences, Jiang turns covert mental activities into complex visual representations through a combination of still photos, videos and installations, which enables her to speak up unreservedly about her repeated reflections on the issues stated above.
Both Guo Yingguang and Jiang Xinyu have chosen to use their own experience as the starting point of their creative works, which reveals the way contemporary artists explore issues concerning the society and everyday life and their ability to think critically. Their works reflect the tendencies of today’s practitioners of art to work within the frame of contemporary art theories, and their experience abroad has given them the vantage point of working in a global context and the potential to expand on existing methodologies. Although they have used different visual strategies and organizational methods in their works, both Guo and Jiang have differed from the traditional photographic practice, and their works are manifestations of their explorations with complex artistic structures and their efforts to integrate logic, content and form.
一根红线穿过被刻意折叠过的纸上，脆弱和刺痛感从纸张的褶皱处延伸到艺术家据此翻拍的图像之上，创作者郭盈光从阿尔布莱克·冯·哈勒（Albrecht von Haller）——“皮肤被看作是隔离外在与内在的媒介”——所阐述的皮肤理论中得到灵感，将其和视觉创作结合起来，尝试通过对纸表面的物理痕迹的描写去体现私人和公众生活的共同经历。