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China : –Lianzhou Festival 2012


Narratives and narrative forms” is the theme of the eighth Lianzhou International Photo Festival. This city of 400,000 people—mid-sized for China—is 200 kilometers from Canton. The festival has become an important event for Chinese photography. More than a hundred photographers came from all over the country to attend, as well as “Western” photographers invited for the occasion. The presence of the heads of European and American photography magazines were added interest for the Chinese photographers.

The program this year was excellent. Selected by festival director Duan Yuting and François Cheval, director of the Musée Nicéphore Niépce de Chalon-sur-Saône, the photographs were both consistent and diverse. The theme of “forms of narrative” lends itself to many approaches, which were as varied as the photographers themselves. It was up to them to find the right content for the forms they selected. (Content, form—that old philosophical problem.) The program featured the work of twenty-five “international” photographers. François Cheval’s selection was severe, almost academic, and there were a few excellent surprises which I’ll discuss later. Of the 50 Chinese photographers, I’m presenting seven of them, with as many photographs as possible. The choice is completely subjective. The introductory texts were written by the curators and Chinese critics. It seemed right to include them.

Chinese photography is maturing, proving its diversity, its authenticity, and its specificity year after year. Here’s looking forward to Lianzhou 2013.

Michel Philippot

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