Insights | The Same But Also Changed
Launched in 2016, Insights is an initiative which focuses on a particular theme or an important moment in the development of photography. PHOTOFAIRS | Shanghai’s 2018 edition of Insights will be curated by Victor Wang王宗孚, a curator, and researcher based in Shanghai and London.
For the exhibition, Wang is drawing on the photographic exhibition history of Shanghai and revisiting the 1999 artist- curated photo exhibition ‘The Same But Also Changed’, that was scheduled to open at 859 Tian Yao Qiao Road, Shanghai, from September 4 – 6, 1999, but was prematurely closed by authorities before it could open to the public.
The exhibition was one of the first to explore contemporary photography in Shanghai and represented a shift in experimental and conceptual lens-base practices. It brought together 15 emerging artists based in China to explore the diverse approaches to experimental photography, and an innovative technology that allowed for unconventionality, spontaneity, and a provocation of what was considered to be ‘contemporary art’ and ‘Chinese photography’ (Zhongguo shying) at that time.
Many of the artists featured in the original exhibition are today recognized as influential to the development of Chinese contemporary art, and to the development of a larger artistic network in the region. Shanghai’s 2018 Insights exhibition will feature artworks by the original artists displayed in the 1999 exhibition, such as such as Geng Jianyi 耿建翌, Yang Fudong 杨福东, Hu Jieming 胡介鸣, Xu Zhen 徐震, Liang Yue 梁玥, Chen Xiaoyun 陈晓云, Yang Zhenzhong 杨振中, Xiang Lqing 向利庆, amongst others, alongside a new generation of Chinese artists working in various image-producing mediums.
Utilizing original photo documentation of the exhibition as a starting point, 'The Same But Also Changed' also reconsiders the premise of the title and the original exhibition by questioning how photography in China can also be understood as an effort to grasp, and re-evaluate China’s art history and China’s dangdaixing, or ‘contemporaneity’, particularly in the context of rapid cultural modernization and increased visual regulation and control, and how image producing technologies today have greatly expanded the medium and concept of photography.
Pointing to an ‘unofficial’ history of contemporary art in China while considering the difference between perceiving Chinese photography as a subject and medium of study and as an artistic technique to produce ideas and historical records that can help illuminate the larger social and cultural landscape of art, and making exhibitions in China at that time.