The stranger… and while I blossomed all alone, the world slumbered

8 December 2018 - 6 January 2019

Organizer: Three Shadows Photography Art Centre

Co-organizer: Foundation for Sustainable Development in Mountain Regions (FDDM), Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) 

Artist: Xiaoyi Chen

Exhibition Coordinator: Yan Qi

Opening: 8th December 2018, 16:00

Duration: 8th December 2018 - 6th January 2019 (Closed on Mondays)

Location: 155A Caochangdi, Chaoyang District, Beijing


Support: Embassy of Switzerland in China


Three Shadows is delighted to present “The stranger… and while I blossomed all alone, the world slumbered,” an exhibition created by the artist Xiaoyi Chen in the SMArt residency program in Switzerland.


During her residency in the Swiss town of Monthey, Chen discovered large boulders – some the size of houses – hidden in a near-by forest. Rivers of ice transported them down from the mountains over the centuries, and while the glaciers have receded, the boulders have remained. The boulders serve as monuments to the glaciers that once were – containers of time, made to rest in a place that does not belong to them. Chen photographed them, creating a sensitive, human meditation on the ebb-and-flow of nature and her personal response.  


Chen’s boulders exist at the edge of light: close to the lamps of the city, shaded by the forest. She captured them at dawn and at twilight, hours when the light is thin and time becomes muddled. The “The stranger… and while I blossomed all alone, the world slumbered” emerged. In its intimacy with the natural world and feeling for the divine, it calls to mind the poetry of the German Romantic Friedrich Hölderlin. It occupies a place of reverence, triggering a reappraisal of the unknown – and unseen – powers of nature. 




About SMArt 


SMArt was launched in 2014 by the Foundation for the Sustainable Development of Mountain Regions(FDDM) in close cooperation with the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and the Culture Service of Canton Valais. It relies on an extensive network of institutional

and cultural partners in Switzerland and around the world. As the Chinese partner of the SMArt project, Three Shadows Photography Art Centre recommends photographers to live and work in Monthey during an open call. Artists ultimately research and create around topics such as “climate change,” "water management" and "mountain development” in the context of challenges facing mountain regions around the globe.




About the artist


Xiaoyi Chen was born in Sichuan Province, China in 1992. She received an MA in Photography from the London College of Communication in 2014 and currently lives and works in Chengdu. Chen’s practice is tied to a natural, oriental aesthetic influenced by Western abstract art and oriental philosophy. Her recent work focuses on the combination of photography, printmaking, video – a mix of techniques aimed at reviving spiritual awareness and intuition before nature. Chen has exhibited widely. She was awarded the Three Shadows Photography Award in 2015, China’s most prestigious photography prize, and named one of Asia’s 30 Artist under 30 by Forbesmagazine in 2017. Her recent solo exhibitions include “The stranger:…and while I blossomed all alone, the world slumbered” (Theatre Crochetan, Switzerland, 2018); “One Giant Leap” (Matèria Gallery, Roma, 2017”, “Never” (A Thousand Plateaus Art Space, Chengdu, 2017); “Art Project- London Art Fair” (Matèria Gallery, London, 2017); and “The Inadequacy of Lauguage” (Matèria Gallery, Roma, 2016). Group exhibitions include her participation in “Extravaganza” (Festival Images Vevey, Switzerland, 2018);“40 Years of Chinese Contemporary Photography” (Three Shadows Photography Art Centre, OCAT Shenzhen, China, 2017-2018); “Ten Directions: The 10th Anniversary Exhibition of Three Shadows Photography Award”( Three Shadows Photography Art Centre, Beijing, 2018); “Athens Photo Festival: Main- Embedded in Nature” (Benaki Museum, Greece, 2018); “Loop—Photography and Video Experiments in Southwestern China since 2000” (A4 Art Museum, Chengdu, 2017); “Calling/re-Calling-Culture city of East Asia 2017, Kyoto Asia Corridor Art Exhibition” (Kyoto University of Art and Design, Japan, 2017); “Stretching Conceptual Space – state and method” (Blue Roof Museum of Chengdu, China, 2016); “Elemental Landscape” (Tabula Rasa Gallery, Beijing, 2016); “A Thousand Plateaus Art Space – People’s Park Project” (Jimei x Arles International Photo Festival, Xiamen, 2015); “China 8: Work in Progress” (Museum Folkwang, Essen, Germany, 2015); “The Elephant in the Room” (V art center, Shanghai, 2015); “Detachment: Three Shadows Photography Award Exhibition” (Three Shadows Photography Art Centre, Beijing, 2015), etc.