Outward Expressions, Inward Reflections.
Discussion with Cai Weidong, Lu Yangeng, Adou, Rongrong, Zhang Li, Liu Yuan, and Stephanie Tung

Photographs by Qiu, Cai Weidong, Adou and Lu Yanpeng. Discussion with photographers and Rongrong, Zhang Li, Liu Yuan, and Stephanie Tung.
Three Shadows, Beijing, 2008. Unpaged, Nearly 200 duotone illustrations in 5 volumes, 4½x6½".

Publisher's Description
The Three Shadows Photography Art Centre in Beijing has been gathering critical renown as the first contemporary art center in China dedicated to photography. Founded in 2007 by Rongrong, one of China’s most influential contemporary artists, and his frequent collaborator, the Japanese photographer Ms. Inri, one of the center’s stated goals is to “explore and develop contemporary Chinese photography on multiple fronts.” On one such front, they support emerging photographers with shows that travel internationally. Not as well known, however, is the Three Shadows publishing program, which has released several gorgeous, sumptuously designed and produced books on Chinese photography, including NEW PHOTO Ten Years, a complete facsimile of the seminal underground magazine published during the 1990s, and a growing series of artist monographs, of which this featured set of books is but one example.

Outward Expressions, Inward Reflections, is a revelation: five volumes in total, four that offer individual portfolios of images by emerging Chinese photographers; the fifth provides the transcription of a roundtable discussion between the photographers—Qiu, Cai Weidong, Lu Yangeng, and Adou—and the curators and key Three Shadows staff. This last is an essential addition to the set, as it not only allows for some understanding of why this group of photographers has been brought together, but perhaps most interestingly, provides some insight into the essential tenor and tone of conversations about contemporary photography in China today.

All four of the photographers work in variations of black-and-white, and the theme of the show and catalog, simply stated, is photographers working metaphorically with the outside landscape. “Outside” is defined fairly broadly, encompassing shots of traffic, outside portraits both formal and informal, rural landscapes, gardens, city night-scenes, traditional rituals, and newly staged performances. At one point during the roundtable, Three Shadows staffer Jiang Yipeng asks, “Why is it that, in the minds of many people, the works of young artists today should be colorful, gaudy, very cool, and full of symbols of modern life?” This may be the secret connective thread. Despite the variety of images, the overriding feel in each volume is darkly atmospheric, brooding, and psychologically charged with each photographer’s efforts to make sense of the idea of place—of traditions on a collision path with contemporary realities. I found their approaches perhaps more akin to Provoke-era Japanese photography than what we have come to expect from Chinese photography today. A quiet but potent undercurrent saturates this thoughtful and striking set of books. Outward Expressions, Inward Reflections is a must have for anyone hoping to catch a glimpse below the surface of contemporary Chinese photography.

Five-volume set enclosed in a clothbound slipcase; front, back, and spine of slipcase features paper-over-board printed images and text.

The Daydreams Of Qiu
Photographs by Qiu
128 pages; 56 duotone images

Photographs by Cai Weidong
40 pages; 29 duotone images

Photographs by Adou
128 pages; 63 duotone images

Falling Away
Photographs by Lu Yanpeng
96 pages; 45 duotone images

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