Pingyao Festival: Photographer Shi Wanning’s "The Lost City"

Pingyao Festival: American Photographer Jamey Stillings uses Aerial Photography to cover renewable energy.

Pingyao Festival: Hong Kong photographer Siu Wai Hang's art work "Customers" collected people's expenditure receipts in one year and put their portraits on top.

Pingyao Festival: Photographer Jamey Stillings's aerial photography are very stunning.

Themed “With Original Inspiration For Brighter Future”, the 17th China Pingyao International Photography Festival held this year is the important platform that features and promotes the works of arts of photographers from around the world. It appreciates photography varied from aesthetic style and emphasis, suggesting a diverse scope of photographic work to both artists and audiences. Founded in 2001, the Festival dedicated to the growth of China Photography for more than a decade. Being the largest festival inside the country, it takes up the leading role in photography which engages a large number of universal photographers to take part each year.

The instinct of photographer

The internationally renowned curator Thomas Kellner has curated 3 exhibitions this year, namely Alternative Realities (Facts), From Image to Icon, and Renewable Energy and Infrastructure, the Solo Exhibition of American Photographer Jamey Stillings who specializes in Aerial Photography. Kellner shared with us his curating directions in these three exhibitions which varies a lot on content and aspect. This is the sixth time Kellner took part in the Festival. The Festival evolves over time and has become much powerful than ever. It is especially obvious this year with the change in spatial arrangement. To Kellner, there is no particular preference on choosing photographer, but rather, his biggest concern is whether what they are working on can be defined as Fine Art Photography. For instance, Stillings managed to figure out a newly adapted relationship between human beings and technology through his works by making structures seen in renewable energy plants such as solar panels and dam his subject matter. Renewable energy is the key to the future of all mankind, and this series documented this glorified moment. The seven artists from Alternative Realities (Facts) are so creative that they showcased their manifest belief through their works, initiating the viewers to reconsider the instinct of being an artist, is to create works that are totally astonishing to the world. One advice given by Kellner about the Festival is, never judge a work at the first glance. Sometimes they may seem ambiguous and it is hard to tell if they are in the spectrum of photography. What matters the most is whether they are intimidated enough to bring us on an adventurous visual journey.

What lies beyond our vision in photography…

Curated by the acclaimed Hong Kong curator Ann Mak, Beyond Vision is another spectacular exhibition in the Festival. It aims to examine the progression of photography through new media advancement, and to explore the connection between art and photography from the visual elements of an image. This exhibition showcased the works of four Hong Kong artists, including Life Still by Almond Chu, the renowned photographic artist; Pulse of Life by Ringo Tang, photographer and film director in advertising; Customer by Siu Wai Hang, emerging photographic artist; and, Island & Mist by Dorothy Wong, multi-media artist. As an experienced curator, Mak has developed her own perspective on nowadays Fine Art Photography. From analog to digital, individual imaging to multimedia presentation, it truly is the blooming era of contemporary photography, which also demonstrates the conception of art is ever expanding. Beyond Vision best illustrates this well-balanced condition: the artistic value of an image does not reflect only within the frames, it goes far beyond our vision, and is brought to life by the creative sense of a true artist. Take Life Still and Mother of the Water by Almond Chu for instance, both works are created 20 years apart, from darkroom creation to fully digitized production, an obvious differentiation is present and a dialogue is formed. It is refreshing indeed to see Fine Art Photography advanced through time and technology.

Not only devoted to promoting China Photography, well-established photographers and curators from over the world also contribute a lot to the Festival, bringing in distinct works of art to the viewers. The theme of this year is very true to its words: to look for the genuine passion in photography when one first picked up the camera, to live the dreams of emerging photographers, and, seeking for a brighter future in this medium of art.