The two sisters: Yang Zhongtian Solo Exhibition

21 December 2019 - 9 February 2020 Xiamen

Curator:Xiao Ruiyun

Duration:  21 December, 2019 – 9 Feburary 2020  9:30-17:30  Close on Mondays 

Organiser: Three Shadows Xiamen Photography Art Centre

Venue: No. 301, Building 2, Xinglinwan Business Center, Jimei District, Xiamen



Exhibition Preface

Text by the curator


When I first saw the pictures of Yang Zhongtian’s two younger sisters, they remind me of the twins under the lens of Diane Arbus, an American photographer. One of the twins displayed excitement in her smile while the other looked full of doubt.


This work is not just about the tenderness among siblings, but also contains the stabbing pain of life. The absence of motherhood and the trees planted by their father tangle with the growth of them. As the elder brother, Yang documents the passing of time. The adolescence of two sisters is approaching, and they are becoming young ladies.


Children’s sincere emotions naturally flow from Yang’s works of his sisters. Most family albums highlight those joyful moments but exclude those dark times of life. Yang, however, decided to record the life of his sisters in an honest way. Photographs hold memories but Yang’s photographs has accomplished more than that. His candid documenting transcends those photographs considered as family memorials by constituting a private memory shared by the girls, which unfolds in time in this exhibition.


The sisters now start to photograph their brother and start to see their brother and the world through the lens. Meanwhile, their childish selfies are also recorded by the camera. For photographers, holding the camera can symbolize a power of seeing. Yet, when the subject holding the camera, subverting this relationship of seeing and being seen, the art of photography is now open to more possibilities. For Yang and his sisters, this is the most natural action. From the photographer to the subject, Yang observes himself through those images taken by his sisters.


Therefore, Yang’s photographs of his sisters go beyond the family memorial and compose a series full of life experience and this exhibition—Two Sisters.



Text by the artist


My original intention of this project was to record the life of my sisters from my perspective as their brother, which naturally due to my pure affections for my two younger sisters.
However, I also have more expectation that I may capture some feelings beyond words and some wonderful moments in the dull past when my two sisters look back at those photos in the future.
When I was a kid, the adults would keep my paintings, so that I can remember my childhood life when I grew up to see these works.
Now I am doing the same thing as my parents did in those days, but I am not satisfied with just keeping my sisters' works. I try to add more of their feelings into those works and make them into my own creations, so as to gain more of my understanding of life. After all, I also participate in their growth.
Fourteen years ago, my elder sister came into my life,I was both thrilled and shy to have her. Then, twelve years ago, when my little sister came into my life, I was still so charmed that couldn't sleep for nights. But it wasn't until six years ago when I just entered the university, I started to learn to take on the responsibilities as a brother. 
When I was in middle school, there was no quick way to take photos, and I had the burden of studying as well. So, I didn't pay much attention to my younger sisters. What I did back then was just playing with them on weekends and holidays and that’s it.
I had my first camera three years ago, and I was thoroughly stimulated by my desire to take photos. Therefore, I began to take photos of my sisters systematically. In the process of taking photos of them, they grew faster and faster. I gradually undertake the obligations of being a brother, and gain more insights of life and family.
To this day, several times a year, my sisters and I would go to a field not far from our home. This is our special appointment and part of our common memory. There is a grove of poplar trees planted by my father six years ago, after my mother's unexpected death. Now, all the trees have been full-grown.




Yang Zhongtian

Born in 1994 in Wolonggang, Nanyang City, Henan Province. Graduated from Henan University, majored in geography, and obtained a bachelor’s degree. Engaging in photography for four years, now living in Daxiangguo Temple. Participated in the Pingyao Photography Festival Youth Curator Program in 2017 and 2018. Works were selected for the Pingyao Photography Festival in 2018.