The exhibition China Imagined, curated in collaboration with He Yining, gives an insight into contemporary Chinese photography.  We feel the urgency to make exhibitions like these to help bridge an undeniably gap of incomprehension between western and Chinese audiences. China Imagined presents 24 visual projects made by both Chinese and foreign photographers, artists and archivists covering contemporary issues and developments within China. This exhibition will be the first major survey of Chinese contemporary photography covering the past decade.

 

All the pictures in this project relate to Chinese food culture and are vernacular in the sense they were not made as art. The food most certainly was. The time span covered in this menu is the second half of the 20th century. Photographs from food science and agriculture rub shoulders with shots from cooking competitions, cookery books and family photo albums. The highs and especially the lows of Chinese food photography are considered in depth from the Great Wall of China made of spam to fridge advertising images where even the freezers are stuffed with delicacies. The source photos are from the Archive of Modern Conflict and were exhibited at Jimei x Arles International Photofestival 2018 together with the book MeNu.

 

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Back in 2012 I was thrown back on the singles market. I had experienced dating via websites but dating on apps was completely new to me. I installed Blued, Grindr, and Jack’d and started meeting up for coffees, casual hook ups and serious dates. Over the years I began taking screenshots of the funniest comments and weirdest conversation starters. It’s been six years since I initially signed up on these apps, I am now happy to share some of these conversations. The project has been published under the title Hlloe? designed by LAVA Beijing.

Since 2014 I photograph for Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant and occasionally for few other media like The Guardian, Wall Street Journal and Financial Times. The jobs allow me to travel intensively and photograph a variety of interesting people in places all over the country. I will continue to do so while working on a wider idea to publish the works outside of the news organizations I got the assignments from.

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China has a fascinating history of photobook publishing. The Chinese Photobook, from the 1900s to the present reveals for the first time the richness and diversity of this heritage. The collection was initially inspired by the interest in propaganda books and in finding key works of socialist realist photography from the early days of the Communist Party and the Cultural Revolution era. In the end the selection of books includes key volumes published as early as 1900, as well as contemporary volumes by emerging Chinese photographers.

 

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In the summer of 2011 Thijs groot Wassink and I spent a month working at Amsterdam’s main business district, the Zuidas. After finding out that this bit of The Netherlands has the most expensive soil, we started digging. At the real estate register we requested the planning permits, valuation and square meter prices, and started comparing. Prints of the project are available on request.

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During the 2011 spring festival the song "Disturbed", performed by Gong Li Na, turned into a hype on the internet. The phonetic lyrics, extreme facial expressions and powerful gestures inspired huge audiences to record their own versions of the song: moments of private happiness in which nothing else seems to matter.

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‘Tokyo Tokyo consists of a series of diptychs in which the mythical “decisive moment” of traditional documentary photography is lampooned. In their projects, WassinkLundgren playfully turn the unwritten rules of the photography upside down. But behind the joke is always a serious attempt to expand both the artistic as well as the social significance of their medium.’

– Frits Gierstberg, Dutch Photo Museum, Rotterdam

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In this project I use my two-meter height in a wide variation of media. Beside photography there are light boxes, magazines, video stills, banners and performances. The handwritten work statement lays the foundation that the project is build on. It declares stardom in five basic sentences with an almost childish spirit: “When I walk on the streets of Beijing I feel like a celebrity. Many people look at me. This I want to use for my new project. My goal: to become a real Chinese celebrity before graduation. Today I start.” . The essence underneath this statement is an emotional desire for acceptance within a new environment, a search for identity and a definition of reality. (Extract of the introduction text of the book Lu Xiaoben by writer Yang Lin). Prints of the project are available on request.

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Empty Bottles shows 24 people collecting plastic bottles in Beijing and Shanghai. It was a subject we came across by accident. While setting up the camera, a woman walked into the image and picked up a bit of plastic that we used as a means of focusing in the hazy light. We planted more empty bottles in front of our view camera and waited until somebody picked it up. Sometimes the bottle was gone before we were behind the camera, other times it lasted more than an hour before someone cared to pick it up. The camera was always in plain view, and the subject of our images only a few meters away. The bottle, which almost functioned as a cable release here, decided the moment the film was exposed, and the people in front of the camera directed their own scene on our stage. Prints of the project are available on request.

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The project Shanghai Forest shows the 'board nature' of Shanghai. The photographs focus on the thin line between real and the printed images of nature. A humorist view on the huge developments of this metropolis and the modern way of dealing with nature. Prints of this project are available on request.

© 2019 Ruben Lundgren

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