PHOTOFAIRS: Global Dialogues

PHOTOFAIRS: Global Dialogues

Marking its fifth anniversary by showcasing trailblazing art from China, Korea, Japan, Europe and North America, PHOTOFAIRS Shanghai 2018 highlights boundary-pushing galleries whilst opening timely global dialogues about truth and fiction. As Georgia Griffiths, Group Fair Director, explains: “PHOTOFAIRS’ ongoing mission is to present cutting-edge artwork and this is mirrored by our public program in site-specific installations, new technology, moving image and artists’ talks.”

Engaging with the future of art and new media, this year’s edition offers video a dedicated platform. Connected presents moving image from organisations including NOWNESS – who highlight the likes of Wolfgang Tillmans and Wim Wenders – and HOW Art Museum, showcasing Leandro Erlich.

2018’s Spotlight exhibition debuts Hiroshi Sugimoto’s (b. 1948) Gates of Paradise, a collection of large-scale compositions charting the journey of the four young Japanese Catholics. The group were sent to Europe’s courts and palaces during the 16th century, visiting renowned sites including the Duomo in Florence and the Pantheon in Rome. Foregrounding the continuing importance of cultural exchange, the monumental images retrace a historical – yet strikingly relevant – voyage.

Looking to political structures whilst bridging the boundaries between installation, sculpture, painting and photography, PHOTOFAIRS’ Staged platform reflects on contemporary Asian society through interdisciplinary works. Examples include Seungwoo Back’s Utopia (2008), which visually echoes Communist era architecture and meditates on the complexities of the current situation between North Korea, South Korea and China. In a similar way, Won Seoung Won’s The Water-Grass Network of IT Specialists (2017) comprises eight panels of digitally-manipulated, imaginary landscapes.

Work by Chen Wei (b. 1980) of ShanghART Gallery, Shanghai, Beijing and Singapore ties into this, constructing fictional scenes that are rich in narrative. Combining fragments of modern China with imagined fantasies, the resulting, meticulous compositions are mesmerising and uncanny, offering viewers an immersive experience.

Further delving into ideas of artificiality, highlights include presentations from Photo 12 Galerie, Paris, Los Angeles and Shanghai, which foregrounds Norwegian artist Anja Niemi, who featured in Issue 64 of Aesthetica [link]. Shown here is Darlene & Me (2014), an investigation into self-perception. Known for crafting fictional narratives and embodying multiple personae, Niemi reveals the intricacies of how individuals view their public image.

This concept is embodied through 2018’s Insights strand, which reimagines the seminal 1999 exhibition The Same But Also Changed. The show – never fully realised – was deemed too subversive at the time, offering radical approaches to the medium. PHOTOFAIRS’ homage features the original ground-breaking practitioners Chen Xiaoyun, Geng Jianyi ,Hu Jieming, Liang Yue, Xiang Liqing, Yang Zhenzhong, Yang Fudong, Liu Wei and XuZhen alongside a new generation of artists: Chen Zhe, Yang Yuanyuan, Fan Xi, Ma Qiusha, Miao Ying and Shi Zheng.

From 21-23 September. Find out more here.

1. © ANJA NIEMI, Darlene and Me, The Backyard, 2014. Courtesy of Photo 12 Galerie (Paris, Los Angeles & Shanghai)
2. © Alec Soth, Chongqing, China, 2008. Courtesy of Magnum Photos (London & Paris)
3. © VALENTINA LOFFREDO, Alike, 2017. Courtesy of Novalis Contemporary Art (Hong Kong)
4. © ANJA NIEMI, Darlene and me, The Desert House. Courtesy of Photo 12 Galerie (Paris, Los Angeles & Shanghai)
5. © HENK VAN RENSBERGEN_Abandoned Places. Courtesy of Galerie DUMONTEIL (Shanghai, Paris _ New York)