curated by HUANG RUI
If it wasn’t for Yanjin, I would not be writing this essay. The thing is I have known Yanjin for a long time, and while I have not always kept in touch, he has always existed in my consciousness. Together we talk about home and rarely about art. We hardly ever talk about photography. While not close, we have a shared fate, the two being different forms of acquaintance. Photography can be said to be quite professional, and it can also be quite generalist. It can be popular but it certainly is not common. Talking about and looking at Chinese photography, including Yanjin’s, is one such example.
The coexistence between us began in 2002, which makes it 15 years old. It was 15 years ago that I returned to Beijing from Japan and started working in 798. Yanjin was just 15 years old, long hair and delicate eyes. With a half serious, half distainful look on his face.
I was only interested in performance art at that time, making art all over the city. Yanjin helped me record my work. He helped with Super Shopping. With him, I made Yanjing Eight Sights with four of Beijing’s top models. Yanjin was just a kid then, only reaching the height of these beautiful women's shoulders. Since then he has become a super photographer.
Who can believe that back then we could use Tiananmen Square as a performance art venue!
Later, Yanjin became one of the rebellious youth, not only rebelling against his teacher RongRong, but also turning on photography itself. Some think that his personality is too special, but I think rebellion is the company that art likes to keep. Regular art concepts and social interests tend to get stirred together, and have a binding effect on youthful longing and sense of challenge. Without the photographer’s title, Yanjin is still Yanjin, and returning to his family’s side in Xiamen made him even more his own person.
Looking at Yanjin’s photographs, I see a relationship with confrontation. His metamorphosis of self-identification and repressed metamorphosis became a type of transformation. The moment of transformation is hard to pinpoint and cannot be replicated. The four series of this exhibition are not connected to each other. All are improvised and without logic. There are connecting lines, but you won’t nd punctuation marks. It is hard to assess what professional language Yanjin works in, instead he will answer you with a long silence.
After 15 years, Yanjin has found me once more, and given me the task of curator. He could be right again, because I know absolutely nothing about being a curator.
Fifteen Years, 26 September 2017, Huang Rui