Moving Images @ Contact 2019

My exibition Moving Images, Moving People is now on view @ 401 Richmond as part of the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival. This is also the first exhibition of this body of work after more than 4 years of research and collaboration, as well as 15 months of planning, curatorial design, and production. The exhibition is made up of illuminated lightboxes, 4K video projections, archival footage, and historical artifacts.

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Moving Images, Moving People

Posters for my upcoming exhibition in this year’s Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival and the related talk + roundtable event.

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Aesthetics of Resistance

Is it possible to develop an aesthetics of resistance in a world that is dominated by spectacles sanctioned by the state and capital?

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The Tree of Life

The Tree of Life welcomes you to the new year of living even more dangerously, as we are locked in a path of 1.5°C warming, economic disparity, political division, and rising nationalism.

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Lianzhou Update

Le Monde, the Paris-based daily, reports on the censorship problems in this year’s Lianzhou Foto Festival. They estimate that at least 10% of the approximately 2,000 photographs, including several of my photographs, were censored in the exhibition. I spoke briefly with an editor from the paper: Festival de photographie : en Chine, l’art mystérieux de la censure

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The Theater of War

My solo exhibtion The Theater of War will open on December 1 as part of the 2018 Lianzhou Foto Festival. The exhibition draws on my ongoing investigation of the relation between aesthetics and military violence, nuclear fallout, and Cold War ruins.

In his treatise On War published nearly two centuries ago, the Prussian military theorist Carl von Clausewitz deploys the idea of the “Theater of War” to analyze warfare. By the twentieth century, this concept has emerged as a common Western military expression. However, the idea of the theater of war is also an accurate description of war preparation, drills, and even civil defense. From the Cold War arms race to the Gulf Wars, the two military superpowers–the United States and the Soviet Union–often used their restricted military zones to simulate the enemy territories for training and weapon testing. Meanwhile, dramatic scenes of devastation by the enemy were also used in civil defense. In other words, even without a real war, the hostile landscape associated with the enemy had already arrived in one’s own territory. Moreover, these fictional scenes tended to normalize the anxiety, fear, and violence brought about by war, and hence greatly increased the possibility of disasters. Thus, even if the war of mutual annihilation did not occur, many military bases and cities built for war preparation had already become victims. Today, the sense of ruination and desolation is evident in these still active simulated battlefields, abandoned weapons testing sites and related military bases, as well as cities and farmlands destroyed in the process. As if the worst nightmare of war has indeed come true, these devastated scenes resemble that of the post-apocalyptic world.

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Portable and Precarious

In the latest issue of Radical History Review that focuses on Photography and Work, my extended photo-essay, “Portable and Precarious: Life and Spectacle in China’s Construction Camps,” explores the relations betwen mobile cinema and the portable life of migrant workers inside China’s construction compounds. “[W]hereas shipping containers are transported between seaports and other logistic centers that are mostly devoid of humans, dormitory containers are packed with migrant bodies to be disciplined, exploited, and recuperated. In short, far from being the abstract imagery of capital, these are palpable and yet hidden landscapes of extraction…”

 

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After Modernism

Let’s take a break from Cold War ruins and check out these abandoned factories from the post-socialist era.

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Life Goes On

The Chernobyl Exclusion Zone is hardly a dead zone or time capsule. For these self-settlers who have moved back to their villages inside the zone illegally, life has to go on. Still, aside from their contaminated farmlands, memories of a better time are what they really cherished.

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Here and Now

Oftentimes, after I’ve posted an image on social media, people would ask me about its location, even though they did not necessarily have the desire to go there. Somehow, I suspect that that curiorsity is driven by our desire to place a scene to a specific place and therefore insulate it from “our” world. But the truth is that these scenes are all coming from a place called the Planet Earth. My images of ruins and ruination may have rendered certain things more visible, but they are not about elsewhere.

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