Cachinko

LEFT: Sha Fei, The Eight Route Army fighting at Futuyu the Great Wall in Hebei (Spring), 1938, from the exhibit The Northern Front, The Anti-Japanese War, 1937-1946 CHINA. Courtesy of WANG Yan  RIGHT: AN Hong, Water Buddha, 1994, from the exhibit New Photo, 1994-1997. Courtesy of Three Shadows Photography Arts Centre, Beijing
LEFT: Sha Fei, The Eight Route Army fighting at Futuyu the Great Wall in Hebei (Spring), 1938, from the exhibit The Northern Front, The Anti-Japanese War, 1937-1946 CHINA. Courtesy of WANG Yan
RIGHT: AN Hong, Water Buddha, 1994, from the exhibit New Photo, 1994-1997 CHINA. Courtesy of Three Shadows Photography Arts Centre, Beijing

FOTOFEST2008-CHINA made a grand entrance with its opening March 7 and has had a great response from the public over the past weeks. Origianally scheduled to close April 20, a number of the key exhibitions have been extended due to high attendance and demand.

New Photo 1994-1997
Vine Street Studios
Extended to April 30

Ethnography, Photojournalism and Propaganda 1934-1975
Allen Center Downtown
Extended to April 27

Independent Documentary 1985-2008
Winter Street Studios
Extended to April 27 (by appointment)

These are your last few days to see what some have called the "most comprehensive overview of photography from China ever exhibited in the United States (and perhaps anywhere in the world)."

FOTOFEST2008 focuses on one of the most compelling cultural, political, and economic phenomena of the contemporary world - China and its transformation.

Politically and culturally, photography has been a key element in creating the public face of China since the late 19th century. From 1870 to 1920, photography helped explain and justify European economic exploitation and occupation of China. From 1938 - 1980, photography became a major tool in Communist Party campaigns to win internal public support for its philosophy and programs - and the message it wanted to send to the outside world. From 1980 - 2008, photography has become one of the major mediums of communication, public and private, about contemporary Chinese society.

Departing from most contemporary art programs on China, the FOTOFEST2008 exhibitions and programs will presesnt both historical and contemporary work. The historical component features three exhibitions showing works from 1934 - 1975 that have never been shown outside of China before. Seven contemporary programs and exhibitions present work from the late 1980's to 2008 - classical and mixed media work by Chinese artists addressing religion, ethnicity, gender, urban transformation, identity, globalization, and the inter-relationship of current art to classical Chinese art and history. All the exhibitions are by Chinese artists working in mainland China. Much of the work to be presented by FotoFest will be seen outside of China for the first time.

Exhibition printing for most of FotoFest's China exhibitions has been made possible through the global support of Hewlett-Packard.

ETHNOGRAPHY, PHOTOJOURNALISM AND PROPAGANDA,
1934-1975 CHINA

Ethnography, Western China, 1934-1939 - ZHUANG Xueben
FOTOFEST AT ONE ALLEN CENTER - 500 DALLAS, 713-223-5522

Image: ZHUANG Xueben, Tibetan Boy, Xia He County, Gansu Province, 1936, Courtesy of ZHUANG Wenjun

ZHUANG Xueben was one of China's first ethnographic photographers and one of the finest. As a young man in his twenties, he trekked to western China and photographed in four provinces: Sichuan, Gansu, Xinghai and Yunnan. Although he accompanied the Panchan Lama on his journey through China to Tibet, he was never able to enter Tibet because of political difficulties between Tibet and China. He lived for long periods of time with the 16 minority peoples he photographed, each of whom spoke a different language. Many of his subjects were Tibetan Buddhists living in China.

The Northern Front, The Anti-Japanese War, 1937-1946 CHINA - Sha Fei
FOTOFEST AT ONE ALLEN CENTER - 500 DALLAS, 713-223-5522

Image: Sha Fei, Children Shouldering Wooden Guns, 1938, Courtesy of WANG Yan

Sha Fei was only 25 when he left his family and home in south China in 1937 to become part of China's fight against the Japanese occupation. He went to northern China to one of the main military fronts in the war, Shanxi Province, headquarters of the Eighth Route Army. The Eighth Route Army was one of the two official Chinese Communist Party armies and allied with the Chinese Nationalists under CHIANG Kai-shek during the Anti-Japanese War.

Sha Fei's self-described mission was to use photography as a "weapon of war" - to create a vehicle to document and disseminate to the Chinese news of what was happening in China's fight against the Japanese. His stated purpose was to strengthen national patriotism on behalf of the war effort.

The Cultural Revolution, 1965-1975 CHINA -
WENG Naiqiang; XIAO Zhuang; WANG Shilong
COMMISSIONED BY FOTOFEST

CURATORS - CHEN Guangjun and XU Weiying
FOTOFEST AT TWO ALLEN CENTER - 1200 SMITH, 713-223-5522

Image: WENG Naiqiang, Propaganda Performance at the People's Workers Culture Palace in Beijing on May 1st, Workers Day, 1966, Courtesy of 798 Photo Gallery, Beijing

Under the Cultural Revolution photography was completely subject to state control. To survive, most photographers had to work with an official news agency, magazine or daily newspaper. These media only published what the state, Chairman MAO in particular, wanted to communicate to the Chinese people.

Photography became one of the key mediums used to communicate the message of the Cultural Revolution to the Chinese public and the outside world. It built upon a system established by the young Chinese war photographer Sha Fei in the late 1930s and 1940s. The history of photography in China cannot be understood without the imagery and iconography of the Cultural Revolution. XIAO Zhuang, WANG Shilong, WENG Naiqiang are considered to be among the best practitioners of the official genre.

INDEPENDENT DOCUMENTARY PHOTOGRAPHY, 1985-2008 CHINA

WU Jialin; LU Nan; LI Lang
FOTOFEST AT WINTER STREET STUDIOS - 2101 WINTER ST., 713-223-5522

Personal or independent documentary work wherein photographers choose their own subject matter and stylistic approach was a phenomenon which could only have happened after the change in the official approach to art and media in China. Independent documentary work is taken for granted in the U.S. and Europe, but this was not the case in China from the 1950s to 1980. ZHUANG Xueben and Sha Fei were part of the last generation to really be able to start their own projects and find a way to support them.

The importance of self-generated movements in documentary photography in China cannot be under-estimated. The strong re-emergence of independent documentary photography in China in recent years is why FotoFest is focusing an important section of the China exhibitions to documentary photography.

The three artists in this exhibition represent three generations and three very different approaches to documentary work.

TOP: WU Jialin, Yibin, Sichuan Province, 1989 , Courtesy of the artist
MIDDLE: LU Nan, Mental Hospital, Tianjing Province, 1989, from the series The Forgotten People: The State of Chinese Psychiatric Wards
BOTTOM: LI Lang, Yimou Butuo, Sichuan Province, 1995, from the series The Yi People

CONTEMPORARY CONCEPTUAL AND STAGED PHOTOGRAPHY,
1994-2008 CHINA

New Photo, 1994-1997 CHINA
FOTOFEST HEADQUARTERS - 1113 VINE ST., 713-223-5522
AN Hong, GAO Bo, GUAN Ce, HONG Lei, JIANG Zhi, LIU Zheng, JIN Yongquan; QUI Zhijie, RONGRONG, SAN Mao, WANG Xu, ZHAO Liang, ZHENG Guogu, ZHUANG Hui.
CURATOR - ZHANG Li, Three Shadows Photography Centre, Beijing and WU Hung

LEFT: JIANG Zhi, Sucker #1, 1997-1998, Courtesy Three Shadows Photography Centre, Beijing
CENTER: HONG Lei, Autumn in the Forbidden City, Taihe Palace East Corridor, 1996, Courtesy Three Shadows Photography Centre, Beijing
RIGHT: RONGRONG, No. 5 (2) Beijing, 1997, Courtesy Three Shadows Photography Centre, Beijing

From 1996 to 1998, photographers LIU Zheng and RongRong worked on a magazine called New Photo in Beijing. They copied photo proofs onto A3 size paper and hand-bound the pages, publishing a magazine that had a run of only thirty to forty copies per issue. Altogether, New Photo published four issues and presented the work of sixteen artists. It was an independent underground publication for artists and like-minded individuals on the margins of contemporary art.

The magazine circulated in Beijing's art circles, where many people first saw works such as Liu ZHENG's The Chinese and Three Realms (1994-1997), RongRong's East Village (1997), HONG Lei's Forbidden City (1997-1997), ZHAUNG Hui's Group Photos (1995-1996), ZHENG Guogu's Yangjiang Youth (1996), and San Mao's Family Tree (1995) series. The fact that prints of these works appeared simultaneously in different cities throughout China signaled a burgeoning interest in photography as an expressive medium in contemporary art. It also signaled an important turning point in the development and evolution of contemporary photography in China.

In the ten years since 1998, artists, scholars, institutions, and collectors have come to recognize this wave of contemporary photography in China, and they have even brought it into the international mainstream where photography already thrives in contemporary art.

Altogether, New Photo published four issues and presented the work of sixteen artists. It was an independent underground publication for artists and like-minded individuals on the margins of contemporary art.

Current Perspectives, 1998-2008 CHINA

XING Danwen, ZENG Han
FOTOFEST AT BERING & JAMES INC - 805 RHODE PLACE, 713-524-0101

LEFT: ZENG Han, Soul Stealer Cosplay #5, 2007, Courtesy of the artist
RIGHT: XING Danwen, Urban Fiction, image 17, 2004, Courtesy of the artist

The process of urbanization in China is obsessive, brutal and sometimes absurd. In cities like Beijing, traditional neighborhoods have been razed one after another until they have almost disappeared altogether. It is a topography of sky scrapers and freeways where it can be almost impossible to find intimate space.

With modern urbanization has come hastily built theme parks with any interpretations of ancient Western-Mediterranean cultures, mixtures of neo-classical European architecture and imitations of Star Wars-video game persona. Cultural artifacts are blended to the point that the boundaries between truth and fiction are invisible.

CHEN Lingyang, LIU Lijie, SUN Guojuan
FOTOFEST AT ART LEAGUE HOUSTON - 1953 MONTROSE BLVD., 713-523-9530

LEFT: LIU Lijie, Another Episode 23, 2007, Courtesy of the artist
CENTER: CHEN Lingyang, Twelve Flower Months #4, 2000, Courtesy of the artist
RIGHT: SUN Guojuan, ,em>Sweetness forever #02, 2002, Courtesy of the artist

In the past half century, Chinese women have experience dramatic changes in the professional roles they can play in Chinese society and public life. But, as with other societies, underlying mores about beauty, age and women's bodies have remained very traditional. It is also true for personal relationships between men and women. Today's marketplace and consumer expectations have increased these contradictions. Issues of gender and the female body are slowly coming to the foreground in the work of Chinese women artists. The three visual artists in this exhibition, representing almost a generation of experience, are among the pioneers in this area of artistic expression in China today.

CANG Xin
FOTOFEST AT NEW WORLD MUSEUM - 5230 CENTER ST., 713-426-4544


CANG Xin, Man and Sky as One Series 2 - Trance, 2007, Courtesy of the artist

"Seeing the vast flat ground in northeast China with green grass stretching far beyond the horizon of suburbia, I felt a strong impulse to create performance art by fusing my body into nature. I call the series Man and Sky as One. The concept comes from the realm of traditional Chinese philosophy. It is the core thinking of the shamanistic belief of northern nomadic minorities. They view human existence from a perspective of worshiping nature and endowing all organisms with a soul. " - CANG Xin

BAI Yiluo, WANG Chuan, WU Gaozhong, YAO Lu
FOTOFEST AT WILLIAMS TOWER GALLERY - 2800 POST OAK, 713-223-5522

ABOVE LEFT: WU Gaozhong, Duck, reply is positive, 1997, Courtesy of the artist
ABOVE RIGHT: BAI Yiluo, Fate no. 4, 2007, Courtesy of the artist
BELOW LEFT: WANG Chuan, Enchroachment, 2006, Courtesy of the artist
BELOW RIGHT: YAO Lu, Landscape #7, 2007, Courtesy of the artist

Looking at the history of China over the past century, we see a society which has had its culture and politics changed and re-made three or four times. Many of these changes have come with conflict and trauma for all the Chinese people. Connections with a long and proud past have been shaken and severed. Today, creative and intellectually active Chinese are questioning and exploring their relationship with their own culture and history and the meaning of this history for the present and future. These are questions that shape the work of the four Beijing-based artists in this exhibition.



SPECIAL COLLABORATIONS CHINA

Mined in China
HOUSTON CENTER FOR PHOTOGRAPHY - 1441 W. ALABAMA, 713-529-4755, www.hcponline.org
PROJECT DIRECTORS: Orville Schell and Susan Meiselas
PARTICIPATING PHOTOGRAPHERS: Adou, DONG Lin, GENG Yunsheng, HE Chongyue, Ian Teh, NIU Guozheng, PAN Bo, SONG Chao, WANG Dajiang, WANG Mianli, WU Qi, XING Danwen, YANG Junbo, YANG Shaobin, YU Haibo, ZHANG Jie, ZHANG Xiaowen

Current Perspectives,1998-2008 CHINA - LIU Ren
RICE UNIVERSITY MEDIA CENTER - 6100 MAIN ST., ENTRANCE 8 (OFF UNIVERSITY), 713-348-4882

Western China, Portraits 1934-1939 - ZHUANG Xueben
MACY'S DEPARTMENT STORE DOWNTOWN - 1000 MAIN ST., 713-223-5522
MARCH 7-APRIL 20, 2008

The People of Yunnan Province, 1985-1996 CHINA - WU Jialin
24 WATERWAY AVENUE THE WOODLANDS
MARCH 7-APRIL 22, 2008

The Border Regions, China, 1934-1939 - ZHUANG Xueben
24 WATERWAY AVENUE THE WOODLANDS
MARCH 7-APRIL 22, 2008



SPECIAL COLLABORATIONS NON-CHINA

LEFT: Jacob Aue Sobol, Sabine, 2000-2002, Courtesy of the artist
CENTER: Dan Nelken, Norie with her Favorite Hen, Delaware County Fair, 2000, Courtesy of the artist
RIGHT: Seung Woo Back, Blow Up #10, 2002, Courtesy of the artist

FOTOFEST AT ERIE CITY IRONWORKS - 1302 NANCE, 713-223-5522
Discoveries of the Meeting Place
Seung Woo Back, Brian Berman, Vincent Delbrouck, Kyung Duk Kim, Katharina Mouratidi, Dan Nelken, Suk Kuhn Oh, Jacob Aue Sobol, Vojtech Slama, and Michelle Sank

JP MORGAN CHASE - 707 TRAVIS, 713-223-5522
National Geographic All Roads Film Project - Photography Program
A Yin (China, Inner Mongolia), Akintunde Akinleye (Nigeria), Altaf Qadri (Kashmir), Oded Balilty (Israel), Andre Cypriano (Brazil), Marcela Taboada (Mexico)

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