Curator: Wu Hung
Location: Yuz Museum, Indonesia-Jakarta
Organizer: Yuz Foundation
But even at the point when conceptual photography was at the height of its popularity, some photographers remained loyal upholders of the fundamental nature of the medium. They did not replace their cameras with computers and nor did they regard the deconstruction of reality as the main task of representation. The leading figures among this group of photographers were not rejecting the importance of concept. In fact, it was precisely because of a deep interest in concept that they carried out a series of experiments in technique and style, striving to expand the language and parameters of documentary photography so as to achieve an integration of concept and realism on a new level. It is worth noting that just as the influence of digital photography has begun to decline in recent years, this new type of ‘conceptualised’ documentary photography has more and more shown its vitality and has begun to produce a number of important works. One reason it has drawn attention is that it is a reflection of a kind of ‘return of photography’: people see in it afresh the use of lenses and light, discover anew a sensitivity to photographic paper and even film and to the explorations photographers make of darkroom technique. Yet nor is this documentary photography in the traditional sense, because the interest in technique is usually intimately interlinked with the artist’s conceptual thinking. In this sense these works represent a dualistic rebellion and integration: at the same time as conceptual photography and traditional documentary photography are rejected, the two are reconstructed and synthesised and so their own contemporaneity is made. The four artists brought together in this exhibition can be said to be representatives of this current. Although they differ in style and technique, they all take reality as progenitor of their inspiration; all of them employ a visual language coming out of the documentary nature of photography; but the concepts in their work are also a reflection of a powerful and self-conscious contemporary subjectivity. It has been these particular features that lead us to title this exhibition Re-imagining the Real – thinking and feeling at the very forefront of Chinese photography, they are using a new imagination to make a fresh engagement with the world.
——Excerpt from Re-imagining the Real by Wu Hung