Two weeks ago I attended the opening of the Shenzhen International Photography Week in Shenzhen, China. It was the first time that all the images from A Million Suns were exhibited at the same time. I still can’t believe the whole thing happened.
As discussed in a previous article, this Chinese exhibition can be directly traced to last year’s Photolucida’s Critical Mass submission. A colleague suggested that I submit to it, and luckily I followed her advice. In the first round of judging, I was selected as one of the top 200 finalists. For the next and final round of judging, over 200 jurors worldwide saw my work. A Million Suns caught the attention of two curators, Blue Mitchell from the United States and Yan Li from China. Blue Mitchell featured A Million Suns in his Plates to Pixels blog in July 2014, and Yan Li submitted the work to the selection committee for the Shenzhen International Photography Week. I couldn’t believe it when the Committee invited me (along with another US photographer, the wonderful Wendy Sacks) to come to Shenzhen. That is how I found myself in Shenzhen two weeks ago.
I was naive about how important this festival was until I was sitting there during the opening ceremonies. Shenzhen is a city of 15 million people, larger than New York City at 8 million. Shenzhen is very proud of its history as a small fishing village that transformed itself, within a span of 30 years, into one of China’s most successful Special Economic Zones. Shenzhen is just north of Hong Kong, separated only by a river, and about an hour apart by car. It was so easy to get caught up in the pride and excitement that everyone felt for the city’s first international photography festival.
There were many events going on throughout the week. There were 10 exhibition locations all around the city. The highlights included a Maggie Taylor and Jerry Uelsmann exhibition at the Shenzhen Art Museum.
I loved the fact that these two exhibitions were facing each other (Taylor on the left and Uelsmann on the right in the picture above). It has such a wonderful connotation. They are partners both in life and work. It gives new meaning to these two images by Maggie Taylor.
There were also informative lectures held at the Luohu Art Museum. Stephen White gave an interesting lecture on the History of Photography from a gallerist and private collector perspective. Instead of recounting the history of photography in a chronological manner, he approached it from a point of view of why you might want to collect this photograph versus that photograph; what criteria you might wish to apply when collecting photographs. It was a great lecture.
I also listened to an overview of 20th century Czech photography by Jan Pohribní_. I was already familiar with well-known Czech photographers such as Josef Koudelka and Antonin Kratochvil, but I discovered new photographers. I have always admired the work of Wendy Sacks so it was an honor to meet her and see her work up close.
I loved the art and I loved the exhibition of my work. However, the best part of the entire experience was meeting people one-on-one. Our hosts ensured our comfort and accommodated us at every turn. I was overwhelmed with the hospitality and friendliness extended to us.
That was the Shenzhen International Photography Photo Week. To Yan Li, the Shenzhen selection committee headed by Mr. Sun Chengyi , and to all the wonderful people I met, Thank you.