September 21, 2014
There is an Australian presence at the Pingyao International Photography Festival 2014 in the ancient city of Pingyao, a world heritage site in China's Shanxi Province. Pingyao, south west of Beijing, is a walled city in Shanxi province which dates back to the fifth century. It is World Heritage listed, and its photo festival is staged at three former factories and five temples within the walled city boundaries
The Australian exhibition is entitled The Wizards of OZ. It is a group show featuring ten Australian artists who have participated in Core Program at the past three editions of the Ballarat International Foto Biennale in 2009, 2011 and 2013.
The Core exhibition program is the flagship of the festival, and aims to show work that covers the whole gamut of photographic craft-from photo documentary, through old processes, scientific and commercial works to fine art. Invitations are limited to between just ten to twelve Australian photographers to participate in the Core Program at each festival.
The Australian artists include Colin Page, Jackie Rankin, Judith Crispin, Sonia Macak, Tony Hewitt, Samantha Everton, John Gollings, Meredith O'Shea, Kara Rasmanis and Vikk Shayen Wong.
Shayen is a Singaporean/Australian photographer based in Melbourne. Her body of work entitled "Performanscape" was created for the Core program of the 2013 Ballarat International Foto Biennale. All performers and elements were photographed on location, nothing was added in post-production. Shayen's personal work is primarily concerned with perception and how it is created and altered; and she also takes an interest in the notion of displacement, placing the familiar in the unfamiliar and vice-versa.
Vikk Shayen Wong, Scenarios in suspended consciousness No. 1, from Performanscape, 2013
Performanscape is a collaborative photographic project with various Australian performance artists and theatre makers. and it highlights the landscapes found throughout Australia that remain hidden from those living in urban areas. The premise is a pervasive cultural disconnection between city dwellers and the natural environment as well as the emergence of an increasing number of site–specific performances within the world of theatre.
Vikk Shayen Wong, Scenarios in suspended consciousness No. 3
This body of work combines storytelling, landscapes and performance arts. Shayen says that this work reintroduces:
the corporeal reality of a performers body into the genre of landscape photography, asking how we see a contemporary human body in relationship to the land. This series explores a personal attraction to moments, objects and relationships that make strange the mundane, that challenges our perceptions of reality and that highlight the unfamiliar in a world that feels increasingly known, categorised and accounted for.
The 2014 Pingyao Festival is the largest photography Festival in the world and I'm not sure what the Chinese reception of Australian photography is. The Auckland Festival of Photography is presenting an exhibition of New Zealand photographers with a selection of images by Qiane Matata-Sipu, Tim J Veling, Solomon Mortimer and Tanu Gago.
Nor do I know whether the Wizards of OZ will travel on the Pingyao is part of the Asia Pacific Photoforum, circuit. The Asia Pacific Photoforum, is an international consortium of professional photography festivals which collectively seeks to further the presence of photography across the Asia Pacific region and around the Pacific Rim.