Updated: Jan 12, 2019
The second stop of my research for projects to be shown in Salut au monde! was China. I was invited to visit the 14th edition of the Lianzhou Festival, that opened on December 1st 2018. Situated in the Guandong Province of China, the Festival has become one of the most interesting gatherings of South East Asia. At least, that was what I was told. It was my second time in the Festival, the previous, took place ten years ago. Many things have changed since them. The country has embraced the twenty one century with decision and everything is changing very fast. However you can feel not everything and everybody is changing at the same pace. As a result, many paradoxes seem to coexist. As if living in parallel realities.
Talking about parallel realities, I would love to highlight two different projects that were shown at the festival. Both had as an origin a publication, both developed later into an exhibition. With very different results.
The first project I wanted to mention was the exhaustive portrait of Louis Quail on his brother Justin. I was attired by those who suffer a mental illness and live among us as a sort of invisible other that we approach only through stereotypes. What is even more terrible, the welfare states that we once enjoyed are no longer there to deal with them. The book, that includes not only images by Louis but also Justin's drawings and poems, is a very accomplished one (you can check it and buy it in here). However, the exhibition wasn't as successful. As in other examples, many copies seemed to me a bit oversized, loosing the sort of intimacy that the project, to my understanding, required. During my last night in Lianzhou Louis presented his work on the terrace roof night projections. It was a very emotional moment but again too much information was given, too many images shown. I imagine it should be difficult to restrain oneself when the subject is so close and dear, and the body of work is huge. Nevertheless, edition is always a key thing for success.
On that same evening, we had the opportunity to know better the work a one of the revelations of the festival, the young Chinese photographer Peng Ke. She was showing a selection of works in the astonishing and brand new Lianzhou Museum of Photography, signed by a young studio named O-Office Architects, as everybody else in the Festival, from neighboring Guangzhou (formerly know as Canton).
Peng Ke belongs to a new generation of Chinese people that had the opportunity to study and work outside (she did it in Los Angeles) that embody all the contradictions of their country. The installation at the museum was challenging, sculptural but grew bigger that the work itself, that had been previously published by Jiazazhi Press a dynamic printing house in a country where printing houses are forbidden. Her book "Salt Ponds", published in 2018, shows an interesting work, very formal as most of her colleagues, but that depicts the places where she grew up in Shenzhen, one of this cities hardly know in the West that aroused from nothing and became a huge gathering spot in front of Hong Kong. Peng Ke was a awarded with the Prize dedicated to an up-and-coming artist. Award that she deserved after what we saw and heard.
To finish this chronic about Otherness in a Festival where the public comes from outside the city and the locals still enjoy getting photographies or and with the international guest, as it happened ten years ago, I would love to mentioned the dummy of a young artist from Singapore - Quinn Lum - that was trying to get a printer for his project entitled "The Abeyant Nursery" in which he shares the miseries of his childhood years to anyone interested. The Other, in this occasion, is a sensitive young man growing old in an exigent family and society that do not accept easily those who are not like they are expected to be. You can see the book in this video. It could also be a good exhibition. I hope he can find what he wishes. Good luck!
Here you have a small gallery about other interesting work presented at the festival as well as the traces of some of the images that disappeared before the opening.