China’s first contemporary photography museum set to open in December.
THE Lianzhou Museum of Photography, intended as a cultural space for both local residents and international academic researchers, will be the first institution of its kind in China.
In 2005, Lianzhou became the locus of an international photography festival. Located in the northern Guangdong Province (current population 510,000), the city is the region's centre of tourism. Over the past 12 years, the festival has become a reference for new trends in Chinese photography. Its 2017 edition theme was “Your Selfie Stick (And You)”.
“The original intention was that, in addition to presenting photographs at the festival, we should make the archive available to photography researchers, because China did not have its own photography museums and it lacked the basic conditions for this kind of academic research,” stated Duan Yuting, founder and director of Lianzhou Foto Festival, in an official statement about starting a permanent institution.
The leaders of the Lianzhou Municipal Government decided to establish a contemporary photography museum there in 2013. The venue will exhibit and collect both Chinese and international photography, while also developing global cultural exchanges. It is the first public contemporary photography museum in the People's Republic of China.
The museum broke ground in 2015 on the fringes of the Pearl River Delta, located on Lianzhou's oldest extant street Zhongshan Nan Road. Sparking a revitalisation of the old centre, it is designed to drive the economic and urban development of the entire city when the museum opens in early December of this year.
The premises were designed by O-office Architects, a Guangzhoubased practice established in 2007. The architecture is comprised of two interlocking buildings. A roof garden and outdoor theater link the museum's respective old and new structures; the space between the buildings is open to the public. The architects used local materials unique to the area, including dark gravel, steel plates, light brick, and green tiles.
“The ambition of the Lianzhou Foto Festival has always been to provide the public with an education, a panoramic view of what is going on in photography,” stated museum co-founder Francois Cheval, the French curator who headed the Musee Nicephore Niepce in Chalon-sur-Saone from 1996 to 2016. He emphasised, “The museum's strong intention to become a showcase for the region, and perhaps, in the end, take part in its redefinition.”
Three photographers will open the space: Zhuang Hui, a key figure in China's New Photo movement based in Beijing, with the series A Shadowless Place; Scottish-born New York-based Albert Watson, known for celebrity portraits and magazine covers, with the series The Two Faces Of Janus; and Zhang Hai'er, one of the pioneers of experimental Chinese photography, who lives and works between China and France, with the series Bad Girls. – AFP Relaxnews
A close-up of Zhuang Hui’s One And Thirty-Worker