Three Shadows Photography Art Centre is honored to present the exhibition "Huang Rui and RongRong: Photo Symbiosis (1994-2001)" by artists Huang Rui and RongRong from 28 October 2017 to 27 February 2018. French curator François Hébel, former director of Les Rencontres d'Arles, curates the show. The exhibition clues the friendship between the two artists, who have been cultivating in different areas but are intertwined, and their artistic exchange from 1994 to 2001. The exhibition features over 10 different series such as "Wander", "Square", "Silver Beach" by Huang Rui and "Ruins", "Frafments", "Wedding Gown" by RongRong. Most of these photo series or photo-installations are presented for the first time to the public.
How to approach photography when you are a symbolic artist, who deals in creative gestures and performance signs rather than demonstration？
Before the digital era, distance had the consequence of not just not knowing more but also not seeing more. Huang Rui needed the eyes of RongRong, his brother in images, to understand what was lacking, and what the other was waiting for beyond the seas, in the intimacy of emotions.
Huang Rui and RongRong established a ritual that film photography made possible. In that time, not long ago, you had to wait it out for the mystery of development, printing and delivery. One produced photos for the other, who knew what he had asked for but did not know the form of what he was going to receive.
Plasticist, it is as a non-figurative raw material that Huang Rui considers photographs, those of RongRong or later those of his own. Their accumulation, transformation, installation, suggest more than they show.
The subjects represented are, in the wrenching and tearing-up, a blow to modesty.
If there was ever a country that really signified change to the planet in the year 2000, it was China. One understands the frustration one could have by being far away from this.
The artists were awake. Everything was used as material. Contemporary art and photography was going through an incredible effervescence. Short of reference points, the sense of creative freedom was strong and fruitful.
A long- distant harvest, the sharing of pictures of nature, symbols of power, love, destruction, temples, a furtive figure of a woman on the walls suggested in the fragments of images, another encountered in the stairwell? Are these signs of a world in radical transition, confronted by the search for absolute purity?
It is then that a new branch emerges, autonomous, in command, RongRong's own work, less brutal or luminous and less sombre, seems to propose a utopia in the midst of chaos.
It is in this claimed complementarity that one should understand this exhibition. Distinguishing the output for Huang Rui, being secretive, straight, voluntary, above all modest, of RongRong in all his languor, without protection, willingly giving up is body and soul.
Because if for Rui the photo is matter and symbol, for Rong it is light and narrative. If for Rong it is utopia, for Rui it is sombre realisation. As twins they have their own personalities which makes it possible to distinguish between them and to offer two readings of the same world.
Introduction of Artists and Curator
Huang Rui is a contemporary artist who creates paintings, three-dimensional works, installations, and performance pieces. He was one of the founders of the Stars Group and the 798 Art District. He was born in Beijing, China. He currently lives and works in Beijing.
RongRong was born in Fujian, China, in 1968. He is a contemporary photographer. In the past he produced many well-known photographs, including the "East Village" series. Since 2000, RongRong works together with Japanese photographer, inri, with whom he co-founded Three Shadows Photography Art Centre in 2007. RongRong plays an active role in programming and curating cross-discipline exhibitions across eastern and western countries. He initiated and curated the three editions of the "PhotoSpring-Arles in Beijing" and the "Three Shadows Photography Awards", a celebrated prize that just reached its nine-year edition. RongRong is also the co-founder of JIMEI Arles Festival, an international photographic event resulting from the collaboration between the Three Shadows Photography Art Centre and Les Rencontres d'Arles.
François Hébel is the art director of the 2017 edition of "Le Mois de la Photo du Grand Paris". Since 2015, he has been the Curator of Photography at the French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF). From 2001 to 2014, he was the Director of Les Rencontres d'Arles. He introduced a new format for the event and brought in a wide range of guest curators. From 2000 to 2001, he served as the Vice President in change of European Affairs at the Corbis Press Agency. From 2010 to 2012, together with Three Shadows Photography Art Centre and Thinking-Hands, he launched and co-directed the event "PhotoSpring-Arles in Beijing". From 1987 to 2000, he was the Director of Magnum Photos and Magnum International, where he improved and modernized the financial and operational procedures of the cooperative. He also curated a number of exhibitions and published several books with Agnès Sire, including A l'Est de Magnum and Magnum Cinéma. From 1986 to 1987, he was the Director of Les Rencontres d'Arles. Under his leadership, the festival was opened to colour and large-scale photography and held several world premiere exhibitions by photographers such as Martin Parr and Annie Leibovitz. From 1979 to 1985, he held a variety of positions at FNAC, culminating in the position of Director of the FNAC photography galleries.