Situated in Beijing’s Caochangdi Art District, Three Shadows Photography Art Centre was China’s first independent organization specializing in contemporary art photography upon its founding. It was jointly founded by the influential Chinese contemporary photographer RongRong and his wife, the celebrated Japanese photographer inri. Since June 2007, Three Shadows has become the country’s premiere platform for the presentation, promotion, discovery and international exchange of high-caliber photography. Three Shadows Photography Art Centre is comprised of two spaces, north and south: one is situated in Beijing’s Caochangdi Art District, while the other is located in Xinlinwan, Jimei District in the city of Xiamen in southern China. The Beijing location includes 4600 square meters of space and 2600 square meters of landscape architecture designed by famed artist and architect Ai Weiwei. The Xiamen location includes more than 3600 square meters of space and was designed by Liu Na of the celebrated firm LARGEarchitects. Aside from its exhibition spaces, Three Shadows Photography Art Centre also includes +3 Gallery, image production facilities, a vast library (Xiamen location), an educational program, a book store, and a cafe.
Three Shadows Photography Art Centre hosts specialized academic exhibitions which include both domestic and international masters of photography in addition to cutting edge solo exhibitions and group shows. Through events, artistic case studies, archival exploration, research, promotion, inviting experts to hold academic lectures, conferences, and symposiums, Three Shadows aspires to be a significant window into the exploration, presentation, and international dialogue surrounding Chinese contemporary photography.
From 2010 to 2012, Three Shadows collaborated with the famed French photography festival Les Rencontres d’Arles to host three years of the “Caochangdi Photo Spring—Arles in Beijing” festival. In 2015, the collaboration evolved into the annual “Jimei x Arles International Photo Festival” in Xiamen, China. The festival includes exhibitions, portfolio reviews, symposiums, a university lecture tour, a photobook market, and a variety of other events, including the “Jimei x Arles Discovery Award” and “Women Photographers Award.” It aims to become the largest and highest quality photo festival in Asia.
In order to support emerging Chinese photographers and promote contemporary Chinese art photography, Three Shadows established its annual “Three Shadows Photography Award” contest in 2008, which is open to Chinese located all over the world. The “Three Shadows Photography Award” is based in academic thought and takes an independent view of contemporary photography as a starting point by inviting a panel of international jurors to select artwork by photographers with the greatest artistic merit and spirit of independence. The award also serves to examine, explore, and uncover Chinese contemporary photography while exposing it to the greater public.
The Three Shadows Educational Program focuses on academic research of photography, the dissemination of knowledge about photography, and the cultivation of new talent. The Centre invites outstanding domestic artists, visiting scholars, and photography theorists to hold workshops, providing high-level courses to photography enthusiasts. Additionally, the Program offers youth courses, extending the reach of contemporary photographic education to a wide audience.
In order to provide international photographers, critics, and curators a platform for the practice or study of photographic art, and to create opportunities for international dialog between artists, Three Shadows Photography Art Centre offers an artist-in-residence program. It allows artists the chance to live and work in Beijing or Xiamen and provide opportunities for them to experience the vitality of Chinese contemporary art and the unique charm of Chinese culture. Ideally, artists should be recommended by an accredited art institution. Artists participating in the program will enjoy an independent living and working space on Three Shadow’s Caochangdi grounds, as well as access to Three Shadows’ exhibition space, darkroom, bookstore, coffee shop, and other facilities. In addition, resident artists will have access to other events like exhibitions, lectures, seminars, performance art shows, and concerts, and they will have ready opportunities to collaborate with other artists if they choose to do so.
There are book stores inside the +3 Gallery at both the Beijing and Xiamen locations of Three Shadows Photography Art Centre. The stores’ stock consists primarily of photography-related books and art products, including photobooks from domestic publishers, Japanese publishers, and Three Shadows Press. The book stores feature independent publications, collector-grade handmade art books, collotype portfolios produced in collaboration with Benrido, and limited edition collectible platinum print photobooks produced in collaboration with the Japanese publisher amansalto. The Xiamen art book store is three times larger than the Beijing space. Aside from presenting photo books, it also has a limited selection of books on architecture, design, and film. The art book store collaborates with designers, using Three Shadows as a platform to support the development of original and creative book production. It collaborates with photographers to produce other photography-related artistic merchandise aimed at imbuing everyday life with photographic art. The store also offers coffee, tea, desserts and healthy snacks.
The library of the Three Shadows Photography Art Centre in Xiamen includes more than 5,000 volumes and is China’s first specialized photography library. The collected volumes primarily consist of photography books of various types including monographs, exhibition catalogues, periodicals, magazines, photography history and theory books, and writings on contemporary art. The collection, which continues to grow year upon year, is comprised almost entirely of generous donations from partner organizations and foreign visitors. The library is free and open to the public, aiming to allow the public to gain greater understanding of the history and development of the art of photography.
+3 Gallery is an independently operated art space under the flag of Three Shadows that seeks first and foremost to act as a channel for promoting Chinese photography past-and-present while forging a path for the future of the medium. It aims to provide a professional model for promoting and guiding China’s homegrown artists and offer opportunities to the public to better understand and recognize oustasnding photography produced in China. It seeks to develop a culture of informed collecting of photography in China. With an international market operational model and professionalized service, +3 Gallery provides an excellent platform for both photographers and photography collectors.
Through exhibitions, education programs, publications, programs for artists, as well as independent events and engagements, we aim to:
• Explore and showcase contemporary Chinese photography
• Rediscover important photographic works from the past and give them the place they deserve in the history of photography in China
• Initiate a dialogue between China and the international art scene in order to establish China's presence in the global photography world
• Serve as an independent mechanism to introduce contemporary photography to the general public
• Influence and facilitate the development of China's contemporary photography
Wu Hung, Harrie A. Vanderstappen Distinguished Service Professor of Art History, University of Chicago;
Director of the Center for the Art of East Asia and the Consulting Curator at the Smart Museum, University of Chicago, USA
Bas Vroege, Director and Curator, Paradox Foundation, Edam, The Netherlands
Fei Dawei Art Critic, Curator
Fan Di'an President of the China Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA), Beijing, China
Kotaro Iizawa, Critic of Photography, Japan
Yoshiharu Fukuhara, Former Director of the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, Japan
Gu Zheng, Photography Expert; Researcher, Fudan University, Shanghai, China
Karen Smith, Director, OCAT Contemporary Art Museum Xi'an, China; Artistic Director, SCoP Shanghai, China
Christopher Phillips, Freelance Curator, Former Curator at the International Center for Photography (ICP), NY, USA, 2000-2016
Berenice Angremy Co-Director of DOORS Art&Culture Agency, Art Director of 2017、2018 and 2019 Jimei x Arles International Photography Festival