Fotofestiwal Lodz: Made in China
China is on the way up – no doubt about it. Double-digit growth figures in international trade and production are the order of the day. The Chinese are good and above all, they are quick. Taking into consideration that free and independent photography has only been possible in China since the early 1970s, then the Asians are probably making up for five years of photographic and art history in only one. Will we need to learn so many strange sounding names in the art market soon? In the future, will we not only have to learn to understand English advertising slogans but also Chinese ones? Not only the Internet and modern translation tools make communicating easier but also international meeting places, such as the first Meeting Place FotoFest in the autumn of 2006. At an unimaginable pace of only three months of preparation time, the first Meeting Place took place in October with 286 Chinese photographers attending from all over China. The range covered enthusiastic amateur photography to classical journalism and documentary photography to abstract and artistic images. The latter were the exception to the rule.
If China was represented by humanistic photography or social realism up to the Cultural Revolution, then the images of today show the upheaval that is symbolic of China’s transition. The break between a rather documentary party-line journalistic photographic style and author photography has been happening for a few years. Where exactly the line – historians will have to define. Eleven photographers between tradition, the past and reflection, carefully looking ahead are represented in this exhibition. The focus of this collection is not the XXL products in loud colors produced by a modern Chinese art factory that work for museum mass consumption. It is, moreover, first and foremost a focus on contemporary images that cross the bridge between tradition and reflection and that demonstrate the conflict in which Chinese tradition finds itself as it transforms to the XXL Age.