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Arles at Beijing 3

An abundance of photographers gathered over this sunny Spring weekend to celebrate the opening of the second edition of “Caochang di, Photo Spring, Arles in Beijing”. The Three Shadows 2011 Prize (named after the magnificent photo center created by photographers Rong Rong and Inri) was awarded to Chen Zhe for works featuring the juxtaposition of photos and their transmission of feelings of personal tragedy.

The exhibitions will be displayed throughout the artsy neighborhood Caochang di (near 798/Dashanzi) where many of the beautiful galleries were designed by imprisoned Ai Wei Wei, whose absence weighed heavily on the event.

Eikoh Hosoe offered a new presentation of three projects including Ordeal by Roses created with the poet Mishima. The collection was magnificently presented on traditionally inspired paper rolls. The subtle work by Japanese artist Yamamoto Masao featured miniature photos hanging delicately on a wall.

Constantly experimenting with new materials, Chinese photographer Zhang Dali presented beautiful oversized cyanotypes. At the CAAW gallery, French artist Bernard Pras developed a magnificent installation of fabrics and furniture that, seen from above, evoked a black and white picture of a woman being arrested by a soldier.

Africa : See you See me, is an eclectic exhibition at the Li Space Gallery featuring a panorama of contemporary African photography of which the most remarkable are portraits by Ines Goncalves and Kiluanje Liberdade.

The connections with Arles are numerous, and include the presentation of the 2010 Discovery Prize winner: Taryn Simon, the Elysée Museum of Lausanne’s re Génération 2 exhibition, the Night of the Year projection throughout the neighborhood galleries on Saturday, April 30, and most notably the re-creation of the historic 1988 event created by Claude Hudelot and myself featuring several Chinese photographers and curated by Karl Kugel. The entirety of the featured works was on display during the inauguration. It was astonishing to notice that Hong Hao, one of today’s masters of Chinese conceptual photography (MOMA and Pinault collections), was already a brilliant element of the black and white pictures selected 23 years ago.

Photo Spring distinguishes itself among the growing number of festivals of varying quality that are emerging in China thanks to the quality of its exhibition spaces and program organized in cooperation with the galleries of Caochang di and 798.

The festival, whose pleasant festival atmosphere assured by Rong Rong and Inri and the Three Shadows team, Bérénice Angrémy and the Thinking Hands team, is worth the trip.

From April 23 through May 31, program available at

François Hébel
Director of the Rencontres d’Arles

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