Last month, the 13th edition of the photo festival in Lianzhou, China took place. The Eye of Photography is offering you a special edition dedicated to this major event in Asia from our special envoy Michel Philippot, former director of photography of the magazine Le Monde 2.
I turned away from France and the country goes into mourning, deaths succeeding each other. Mme Pierette Durand of Pontarlier (Doubs), Mr. Jean d’Ormesson of Neuilly sur Seine (Hauts de Seine), Mr. Pierre Cavalier of Chavenat (Charente), and Mr. Johnny Halliday of Saint Barthélémy (French Antilles) decided to die. I am in a country where a former leader named Mao one day had written that “not all deaths have the same weight, that some are as heavy as mountains and others as feathers…” What did our deaths of the week weigh? Mr. Macron, President of France, our leader, knows how to recognise his people: a national homage here, a public homage there, a little speech not far from home, and here we go…
While I write these lines, in China, President Xi Jinping also knows how to recognise his people. He just welcomed the President of the Maldives, Mr. Abdulla Yameen, to sign a free trade pact. Like Johnny, maybe he loves islands… It is necessary to say that this man needs to rest, he who from Beijing declared at the South Human Rights Forum that “Human Rights must and can be developed in the light of specific national conditions and what the people want…” “What the people want,” how many times, under all latitudes, have we heard this phrase that, alas, each time falls like a sentence, a condemnation of fundamental liberties. Long live the people who develop in the light… me, I already used the light switch.
Everything happening, future events and traces of the past, is good for photography. Fittingly, in China, two hundred kilometers from Canton, LianzhouFoto opened its 13th session and, in the process, inaugurated its Museum of Photography. Lianzhou, thanks to the durability and quality of the programs, was legitimately able to welcome a National Museum of Photography. The theme this year: “Your selfie stick and you”, a sufficient theme to discover a little bit of everything (and this to my greatest delight). There are still many questions on personal, social, and national identity; the environment and its wart, pollution; the beautiful walks that have a lot to reveal; State of shock in front of terrorism; cybernetics… but nothing rebellious. Why is Aunt Anastasie angry? Torn borders, smudged photos, deleted biographies, a censorship difficult to understand, the targets are innocent from political, ideological discourse. I am a bit shocked writing this. I would like to understand while giving no justification to any violation of artistic creation. This being written, the Festival of Lianzhou still remains to be seen and appreciated.
I suggest looking at the work of Xu Yinhua and his view on cameras in our life and the work of Wu Dengcai who sees houses of worship transformed into warehouses. Teng Fei shows us glossy cats, Zhang Kechum colorizes anachronistic situations, He Bo is captured by terrorist attacks and conceptualizes with efficiency, and Du Zi takes on pollution. Bring your attention to the portraits of the “unnamed” by Ao Guoxing. Li Lin recounts some Chinese communism while Jiang Zhenking, taken with Tibet, shows us these inhabitants with empathy and sensitivity. And then there is the remarkable Yan Ming, an open invitation to a stroll, intense, quiet, tender, high art photographs.
Chinese photography is doing very well, from what we can see, and will be examined for a long time to come.
Michel Philippot is a French journalist based in Paris. He is the former photography director of the magazines VSD and Le Monde 2.
Lianzhou Festival 2017
From December 2, 2017 through January 2, 2018