Three Shadows Photography Art Centre and CHANEL co-host the Curatorial Award for Photography and Moving Image Finalist Exhibition and unveil the winner and Special Mentions of the 2021 Curatorial Award for Photography and Moving Image during the opening of the 2021 Jimei x Arles International Photo Festival.


Following three rounds of discussion and selection by the jury committee, Jiang Feiran with the project Unnamed River received the 2021 Jimei x Arles Curatorial Award for Photography and Moving Image.


"Unnamed River" attempts to loosen the time-view of the image based on "the decisive moment" and the historical view behind it, questioning the "titled" images as the naming of events and moments. It also recovers three "famous scenes" from the history of the image to recreate the latent images of the "unnamed" moments that have been obscured by historicised narratives.


Through the programme, the project proposal Unnamed River will be realized, resulting in an exhibition that will tour the Three Shadows Photography Art Centre (Beijing), and ZiWU (Shanghai). The winning curator Jiang Feiran will participate to a mentoring and exchange programme, as well as a cash prize of RMB 100,000.


As the jury mentioned, Unnamed River is a comprehensive presentation of nine practice examples in the development of contemporary Chinese photography. The curator has inquired into the concept beyond "seeing images in history" and tried to open a new discussion on the history of images, philosophy of time, and contemporary practice with the three recurring, frequently discussed famous scenes - Behind the Gare Saint-Lazare (Henri Cartier-Bresson), Odessa Steps (Sergei Eisenstein), and The Horse in Motion(Eadweard Muybridge), the re-discovery and new explanation of which will also form a framework for research and exhibition. The Unnamed River will help the audience understand the exploration of erasable and reshapable time, where the current photographic practice stirs the linear flows of time while more and more photographic languages emerge to bring forward new exhibition forms. The exhibition program has shown the all-rounded ability of the curator and his team in research, curation, and spatial management.


The Past Is a Foreign Country (Curatorial Team: Yanhan Peng + Tracing the Elephant) received a Special Mention from jury RongRong, The Past Is a Foreign Country comes from the book of the same name written by historian David Lowenthal. The exhibition features three image archives concerning the geography, human and natural histories of the Anthropocene. Based on the ontology of photography, the exhibition explores the relationship between photography and "object", "image" and "time". The scheme shows a space that stretches over time and materiality, where rubbings and ancient ceramics fragments, collected by Chinese artist Ta Ke, and standard products of industrialization, presented by American artist Chris McCaw, will form a powerful, expanded dialog. The exhibition scheme demonstrates the curatorial team's deep thoughts, strong research skills, and excellent spatial management.


The World-time, The Dream-time (Curatorial Team: Yin Shuai and Zhang Yichuan) received a Special Mention from jury He Yining, The exhibition The world-time, the dream-time starts from The Word for World Is Forest, written by American science fictionist Ursula Le Guin. In the novella, the colonists are experiencing two kinds of "time", time conceived awake and by imagination. The curators want to link this to works created by six artists and closely related to topics such as the current environmental crisis, ecological politics, and capitalist critique. The noteworthy part of their scheme is that the two curators have combined the artists' studies (such as Xu Tan's Phytosociology) with the publishing plan, thus establishing a continued discourse between words, nature, and visual arts.


Women are fashioning (Curatorial Team: Ying Liu & Yiyi You) received a Special Mention from jury Cao Dan, The Women are Fashioning has set an example of how to "access" and "develop" an exhibition with a concept, which requires the curators to think thoroughly about concepts and issues, and have the horizontal vision necessary for organizing an exhibition, and to be able to move freely between the two. It is not a conventional or regular curatorial approach in art exhibitions, but in their scheme, the curators have demonstrated the force of her concept as well as the depth of issues that will be elucidated in the exhibition. When analyzing the common meanings of "fashioning", they also recreate a spectrum of meanings for this concept in the form of an exhibition. The displayed "conceptual map" is like an X-ray scanner, allowing us to see the complex relationship between the awareness of the issue, the line of thought, and the exhibition form, while making the exhibition more concrete - a symbiotic map that integrates sociology, philosophy, aesthetics, and exhibition studies. It also reflects the curators' dual self-reflection: they are not only alert to the encroachment of life in ideas but also, quite consciously, look forward to the ultimate surrender of their ideas to life itself. 


SMART-59 (Curator: Yichen Zhou) received a Special Mention from jury Gu Zheng and Lu Mingjun. Based entirely on the real experience of the current reality, Zhou Yichen, with 10 artists from all over the world, put forward a guess that a virus named SMART-59 would sweep the whole world again in 2059. Unlike previous viruses, SMART-59 rightly infects people's brain by enhancing people's self-awareness, and of course, it is an irony. On the one hand, it reminds us that virus will become habitual. On the other hand, in view of COVID-19 aggravating the involution, technological capitalism superseding human beings and the loss of self-consciousness, we may need a new "virus" to call ourselves back. After all, it is virus, and can the finiteness of people be viewed as ego (consciousness, body, rights) to bear the harm from the "virus"? Having nothing to do with photography or image, but from another perspective, the exhibition theme releases a new energy of photography regarded as knowledge and social behavior, which is also the imagination of the future and the correspondence of art based on real life.


As Gu Zheng, Art Director of Jimei × Arles International Photo Festival, mentioned:"Curators and researchers play a major role in promoting the development of Chinese contemporary photography. They're irreplaceable gems. Now, our most urgent job is to discover and groom more excellent young curators and researchers in China, which must also be the next main goal of the Jimei x Arles International Photo Festival. This initiative will leave a positive impact on contemporary photographic exhibitions and academic research."


The 2021 Curatorial Award for Photography and Moving Image Finalist Exhibition features 5 curatorial proposals: The Past Is a Foreign Country (Curatorial Team: Yanhan Peng + Tracing the Elephant), Unnamed River (Curator: Jiang Feiran), The World-time, The Dream-time (Curatorial Team: Yin Shuai and Zhang Yichuan), Women are fashioning (Curatorial Team: Ying Liu & Yiyi You), SMART - 59 (Curator: Yichen Zhou). The finalists' projects present the unique characteristics of the curators and curatorial teams in terms of their research abilities and ways of thinking, as well as their reflections on bringing their past curatorial and public education experiences into their proposals.


A committee of experts in photography, moving image and curation are convened for the 1st Curatorial Award for Photoghraphy and Moving Image includes:

Christoph Wiesner, Director of the Rencontres d'Arles and Co-director of Jimei × Arles International Photo Festival;  

RongRong, Chinese contemporary photography artist, Co-founder and Co-director of Jimei × Arles International Photo Festival;

Gu Zheng, Art Director of Jimei × Arles International Photo Festival;

Cao Dan, Senior Art Journalist, Curator, Documentary film director, Publisher of The Art Newspaper China & LEAP;

Lu Mingjun, Doctor of History, Assistant Research Fellow at the School of Philosophy of Fudan University, Curator, Artistic Director of Surplus Space;

He Yining, Photography Historian, Curator;

Ye Ying, Editor-in-chief of The Art Newspaper China.