Li-Han Lin is a Taiwanese-German photographer who was born and raised in Hilden, Germany before moving to the States where to study photography at the Art Center College of Design. He has worked in Los Angeles , New York City, Shanghai and Taiwan. His work reflects his unique background, exploring themes of identity, friends and family . He has contributed to Monocle Magazine, Vogue Japan, GQ Japan, Nulon Japan. He has also shown work at the S+S Gallery in Taipei and recently was a winner of the Samsung NX project 2012. Currently based in Berlin where he is working on a stop motion animation short film.
Richard Rowland lives in Brighton, England where he received his BA in photography in 2005. He has a passion for the urban environment and this has led him to undertake projects in cities including Shanghai, Dubai, London and Mumbai. Richard’s work has been included in both national and international publications as well as solo and group exhibitions at the University of Westminster, London, The National Galley, Kosovo, FORMAT Festival (UK), and the Brighton Photo Biennial, England. I recent years he has been regularly funded by Arts Council England the National Lottery (UK). He earns his living as a freelance photographer for design, editorial and publishing clients. Richard’s work has appeared in publications including The Guardian, British Journal of Photography, Vogue and Wallpaper Magazine.
Garie Waltzer was born in New York City and received her BFA in painting and MFA in photography from State University of New York/ Buffalo. She is a recipient of numerous artist grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Ohio Arts Council, including the 2011 Ohio Arts Council Award for Excellence in Photography, and most recently, the 2012 Cleveland Arts Prize. Waltzer developed the photography program at Cleveland’s Cuyahoga Community College where she chaired the department and taught for many years. Her work is included in the numerous private, corporate and museum collections, including the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Robert B. Menschel Media Center, and Houston’s Museum of Fine Art. She is currently working on Living City, a project examining the cultural landscape of urban civic spaces.
Spanish photographer Pablo Conejo traveled to China to document the rapid—and, he thought, almost unsustainable—development of a country full of contradictions, the result of Chinese culture confronting global trends. Before his trip, he made a list of opposite concepts to accompany him as an inspiration: east and west, poverty and wealth, communism and capitalism and tradition and modernity were all ideas that served as guides in the photographer’s anthropological excursion. In Shanghai, he saw yet another contradiction.
Conejo found himself immersed in a futuristic urban landscape, a skyline overloaded with concrete and glass above the smell and feel of the stereotypical China he expected to find, one that he describes as a “tangle of motorcycles, cars, people and noise; a mix of intense food smell from stalls and kitchens, car fumes and a murmur from all this bustle; all this jumble peppered with red lanterns and fortune cats.” Then, as he reached the borders of the city he found a peculiar urban project: a set of nine suburban neighborhoods under construction, mimicking the architectural styles of several iconic European countries, including France, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Holland and Germany. Built to house the wealthier Chinese population escaping the big-city lifestyle, “One City, Nine Towns” is a thematic urban project launched in 2004 with the goal of relieving overpopulation in Shanghai. These artificial towns, which are replicas of buildings found in the various European locales, are projected to house one million people by 2020.
“At the moment all the towns look like ghost cities,” Conejo says. “The empty streets make them look like Disney World or a cinema set. As a matter of fact, Thames Town, the English imitation, is becoming a very popular location to have one’s wedding photography made.” Despite their popularity among locals, Conejo realized that some people weren’t familiar with the original inspirations of these model homes. In the Paris neighborhood, the photographer asked three teenagers if they knew anything about the French capital. “Paris?” one asked. “I don’t know.”
Pablo Conejo, who was born in Madrid in 1981, ran two urban photography workshops in Instituto Europeo di Design in Barcelona in 2008 and 2009. You can see more of his work here.
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All Photo Stroll iPhone photos, © Miranda Gavin. Photos of work © Birdhead.
If you want to get a taste of contemporary Shaghai in the 21st century, then head down to Paradise Row gallery where the debut London solo show of Shanghai-based photographic duo Birdhead – set up in 2004 by friends Ji Weiyu and Song Tao – is on for the next two weeks.
Daily life in China is captured through a series of black and white images, Welcome to Birdhead World Again, using a snapshot aesthetic and arranged for the show as a series of grids and sets of multiple images. The images are specifically arranged and organised, much in the same way collectors categorise objects, while the grid arrangement allows the work to be read and experienced in multiple ways; left to right, right to left, up and down and vice versa, as well as diagonally. this arrangement could also been seen as echoing the block-like structure of buildings and the layout of many modern cities, making the reading of the work as dynamic as the city itself.
The classical Song dynasty poem, Youth Does Not Know How Sorrow Tastes, by Xin Qiji and translated by John Scott and Graham Martin, is re-presented in the gallery space and provides inspiration for the images . “Each word of the poem is extracted photographically from neon signs and billboards around the city”, writes Katie Hill in the catalogue; fragments from the past appropriated from contemporary culture. One gallery visitor commented that the translation was, perhaps, too flowery. Welcome to Birdhead World Again runs until 4 April and is highly recommended.
Being touted as China’s hottest duo, Birdhead showed work at the recent 54th Venice Biennale. See over for more about the work.
All photos above © Birdhead, courtesy of the gallery.
Birdhead “use photography to capture, mediate and occupy their contemporary experience of daily life in Shanghai, China’s greatest metropolis whose ever increasing scale and vitality is more than itself – being read the world over as a gauge of the flow of power from West to East.
“Their tactical use of the snapshot aesthetic and the high volume of images they deploy make manifest a visual stream of consciousness. We see the artists going about their lives; being with friends, laughing, talking, eating, working, partying, sleeping etc. all this against the backdrop of the urban landscape of Shanghai. Tall towers, skyscrapers, telecoms masts and vast flyovers punctuate the images of human activity, of youth and consumer culture, illustrating the strange symbiosis between inanimate infrastructure and the life that it shelters and facilitates.
“Alongside their images, Birdhead present, Youth Does Not Know How Sorrow Tastes by Xin Qiji, a classic poem from the Song dynasty era. A melancholy masterpiece, the poem reflects upon the arc of experience that forms each life, the Romantic naiveté of youth and the price paid for wisdom. In common with Birdhead’s sensibility, the poem is imbued with the pathos of the individual set against the sweep of historical time.’ From the press release.
Quentin Shih a.k.a Shi Xiaofan, 1975, China, is a fine art photographer that also focuses on portrait, fashion and commercial photography. Since 2008 Shih has collaborated with Dior which has resulted in several impressive series. He is a self-taught photographer who lives and works between Beijing and New York. His clients include some of the major brands including Nokia and Adidas aswell as editorial clients as GQ and Vogue. In his fine art project Citizen of State he wanted to use a surrealist technique and a precise pictorial composition to depict death of ordinary people in a country fixated on heroism. The following images come from the series Shanghai Dreamers, Citizen of the State and The Stranger in the Glass Box.