I encountered the work of these two photographers in an exhibition in the Palau de la Virreina on the Ramblas in Barcelona. This showcase of current Chinese photography was as a whole not that exciting but these two were certainly worth a look. Perhaps it was that my unfamiliarity with the details of the culture, and the language (since many of the photographs had text emblazoned on bodies and I’m sure the words meant something), and perhaps it was that I found some of the symbolism a little too overt but as I say, there was some good.
I like Weng Peijun‘s work because it reminds me of those social realism posters and statues. However, the person observing the landscape is not brimming with heroic purpose but perhaps wistful, or even blase. Or just looking. But there is little doubt that the similarity lies in that it is a little more than just a landscape but a look at the future, at the changes that have just taken place and which are a small start on what will yet come.
As much as I liked Peijun’s work, nothing prepared me for Chen Lingyang. This was truly remarkable stuff. The first one here I found on line and was not part of the exhibition. It is an earlier work by here.
The next two are two out of a series of twelve photos documenting her periods and each labelled with that month’s flower. Out of context, and in this impoverished format, these do not even come close to conveying the impact, the cohesion, the classicism or the power of this set of images. Suffice to say, you are bound to the spot, and you come back and look at them again.
I’ve now seen the photographs in a book and you can see the set here online but they don’t impress me in these formats at all….you just have to see them in person.
The set may also derive some power from coming from a culture not quite infiltrated yet by the confessional as ours is. Her work is considered somewhat scandalous and as of a few years ago, her only sales had been to foreigners.