From Saturday 05 December 2006 to Saturday 20 December 2006
Lianzhou City - Guangdong Province, China
The Lianzhou International Photo Festival was born out of the desire to demonstrate the immense wealth of photography found in China while exploring photographic works from various cultural backgrounds in an exhibition held in a small-sized Chinese city. Although organized by a team full of ideals and dreams about photography, a festival should grow naturally from the land it is held in. Last year’s edition gave most people a taste of the Lianzhou International Photo Festival’s remarkable ambiance—a unique chance for Chinese photography to meet the world and share the stage with the wider world of international photography. Exhibition spaces grown out of the remodeling of ancient architecture, wanderings in the surrounding old villages, captivating nighttime slide shows, riverside food-stall activity, local folk color While watching Lianzhou’s phenomenal opening ceremony, a friend active in the art world commented: “The festival is so intense it’s like those mass campaigns we used to have in the past! Perhaps only photography possesses the ability to produce such a powerful effect.” Such praise is justified, for art isn’t only meant for museums, and it’s marvelous for it to have an opportunity to reach out and touch the masses. There are pioneers around the world who have already provided a model for holding an artistic, photographic and academic forum or exhibition in a uniquely symbolic city with limited capabilities and a relatively peaceful environment: the Basel Art Expo, the Arle Photography Festival, and the Yamagata Film Festival. As latecomers, we have taken photography, this visual form that is tightly intertwined with mankind’s contemporary life, and once again planted it in a small city. Its influence and significance will not merely be limited to its related fields and professions; over time, it will have a profound impact on the people and cultural state of the place where it is held.
Of course its influence will also manifest in many aspects of economy and society as well. Photography is in essence a medium for visual expression and interaction. “In this society, aside from speaking and writing, meaning can also be spread through the use of the visual. Images spread information, provide joy and sorrow, effect style, determine consumption and alter power relationships. Who do we see? Who don’t we see? Who has the right to be within the system of power and righteousness? Which events in history truly possess flowing visual characteristics, and which ones do not? Who can produce a vision from what is provided by the visual image? These are some of our questions regarding images and their dissemination.” Irit Rogoff is looking from the perspective of visual culture and engaging in cultural construction of images in the visual field. Through each edition of the Lianzhou Festival, we try to lead the viewer to discover new ways of viewing, and this year’s theme “The Observer and the Observed” was conceived with the viewer in mind. Exhibitions will discuss topics revolving around the theme, touching on such subjects as the essence of photography, objectivity and subjectivity, the observer and the observed, and personal and public interpretations; curators from home and abroad will present works by highly esteemed photographers that meet the criteria of the exhibition; and the exhibition space, like last year’s Harvard professor of architecture-designed space, will be creatively and meticulously carved out, for while the concept of “mass campaign” is a useful paradigm for the festival, it only bears significance if the event is based on certain standards. We open our arms to the public—to all those who love or do not love art, to all those who love or do not love photography, and to all those who have come before or who will come again—and welcome it to take part in this great “mass” celebration of the art of photography. Duan Yuting Director, Lianzhou International Photo Festival.
© Nadav Kander