to be an image maker

Curated by He Jing

Ko Sin Tung (1987), Li Ran (1986), Pu Yingwei (1989), Tong Yixin (1988), Wang Tuo (1984), Xiang Zhenhua (1986)

Today’s photographers or photographic artists have to not only take photos but also be able to reflect on the environment of photography. Compared with the traditional concept of the “photographer” this describes someone who is more like an “image maker”. The “making” in question is not simply technical, but more a reflection on a series of gestures in the image-making process itself and how they are generated. Whether the image is shot, reproduced, copied, edited, misappropriated, tampered with, reset or even destroyed does not matter. In short, the artist as image-maker is no longer simply the person behind the camera clicking the shutter button, nor necessarily deified as a creator in the image world. All these relationships can loosen up and become multidimensional. What is important is that in the whirlpool of dissemination and circulation, the opportunity to intervene in continuous editing and repair is not lost, and that in the creative process, an introspective attitude towards both object and way of working can be preserved.

In the context of Chinese contemporary art, it is imperative that photography is discussed. Perhaps by opening up the so-called “photographic” borders, media barriers that limit the discipline will be lifted. In fact, only when photography is no longer being talked about on its own, but rather viewed in a general context of contemporary images will it be possible to further enrich and activate this visual form. The exhibition To be an image maker at Jimei x Arles International Photography Festival shows several young Chinese artists’ image making practices, opening up the narrow confines of “photography” toward a broad idea of the “image.” While exploring the boundaries of photographic images, the problem is directed towards the media itself in our visual environment and its mechanisms of production. Stemming from this, the exhibitors are all not “photographers” in the traditional sense, but creators of images, installations or texts, or have always been concerned with images outside of the perspective or discipline of traditional photography. Despite the different approach, the works presented in this exhibition are all reflections on the artists’ existing image making methods. Thus, it is not so much an exhibition of photographic images as a cultural studies case on contemporary visual environments and image production mechanisms.

He Jing