June 3: Three treatments of varieties of transgression appear in separate exhibitions in Shanghai and Copenhagen.
Lin Zhipeng (林志鹏) (aka No. 223) opens his solo exhibition 223 @ M97 at M97 Gallery‘s 2nd Floor ‘Project Space’, 363 Changping Road, JingAn District, Shanghai with an opening reception for the artist today from 5-7pm. Meanwhile at the Copenhagen Photography Festival continues with screenings of Anders Rye Skjoldjensen‘s and Katrine Marie Kragh‘s Egostripper at the main venue Photo City at the old gasworks, and a joint show by Mette Frandsen and Harald Holst at Blaa Galleri, Blågårdsgade 29, 2200 København N.
Lin Zhipeng (*1979, Guangdong province, China), who named himself “No.223” after the lovelorn cop character in Wong Kar-wai’s movie Chungking Express, has become a leading figure of new Chinese photography of the last decade by popularizing his work via social media, his blog, North Latitude 23, the first photography blog to reach a click-rate of greater than one million, and through his self-published zines and later, his photobooks. He describes one of them:
Versatile is a selfish sensitive image zine, belongs to No.223’s self-published project. It contains photography works by No.223, is a trends from cutting edge to pop culture.
Through some fifty photographs in the exhibition Lin represents an unconventional post-80’s and 90’s generation who react against their conservative and often closed traditional society and cultural background with escapist, hedonistic lifestyles, “beautiful things out of the dust”, as he calls them in Versatile #2, a collective not-so-private diary.
The imagery only quite mildly and playfully hints at the erotic and wanton bondage, fetishes for food, luxury goods and tobacco, sexual joy and exhaustion, loneliness, self-pity and regret, deviance and decadence.
Clearly inspired by Nan Goldin, Larry Clark, Wolfgang Tillmans, and Juergen Teller, his photographs never let go of their clever, hipster ambiguousness; they can be read on one level as mere fashion pix, à la Guy Bourdin, or on another as gonzo photojournalistic social revelations; they remain a mix of romance and chaos, play and needy lust.
They are deliberately provocative of middle class Chinese values at a time of considerable youthful disaffection amongst these one-child family offspring who are the result of that notorious example of social engineering. They are also a sign of a society in a major state of transition.
Direct on-camera flash is used in a majority of Lin Zhipeng’s photographs and here that device is used to represent a casual, pseudo-amateur, immediacy and candour that we have come to experience in mobile phone snaps, and to indicate that the photographer is in the thick of things, a participant amongst friends.
They sometimes pose for him, but most often they seem to ignore the presence of his camera, so engaged are they in their own world. And there are images in such numbers that they seem to barely fit into the publications or onto his webpage, and are crammed together, or overlap, or are added as foldouts or inclusions, sometimes even as give-away limited-edition C-type photographic prints.
Lin Zhipeng has shot photos for magazines such as Vice, S magazine, VISION, City Pictorial, and brands such as United Nude, Converse, Glaceau Vitamin Water, and Bacardi and also produced video works. His photographs have been featured in numerous publications such Vice and Voices of Photography magazines, as well as the book New Photography in China (2006), and presented in group exhibitions in China (Lianzhou International Photography Festival, 2008 ; 2014) and abroad (Unseen Photo Fair Amsterdam, 2013). Lin Zhipeng’s works have more recently been given closer attention in several solo shows both nationally and internationally (Loppis Galleria Parma, 2014 ; De Sarthe Gallery Beijing, 2016 ; Stieglitz19 Gallery Antwerp, 2016).
In contrast to Lin Zhipeng’s youngsters, photojournalists Anders Rye Skjoldjensen (*1990) and Katrine Marie Kragh feature a film Egostripper, and photographs. Their subject Alice Oppelstrup Jensen, is 33 and lives on a small farm in northern Jutland (nordlige Jylland) and has been a stripper in pubs and clubs and at private events since she was seventeen. As ‘ChaCha’ she is now considered to be one of the best strippers in Denmark, wild and outgoing, but at home on the farm, she cares for her horses and donkey. A sufferer of ADHD, she admits that she is hard to keep up with and is disappointed so often by people that she has learned to trust no-one and to maintain full control, with no one to decide anything for her.
Fast cutting using a mix of brief footage and stills at the beginning of the short film bombards the viewer. Not just a story about a stripper, it contrasts in lurid colour the club environment with soft, overcast scenes of mucking out stables and leading horses on her farm on the Danish moors. The visuals are backed with Alice’s commentary on her lifestyle and that of the very different ChaCha. Anders Rye Skjoldjensen and Katrine Marie Kragh present a sympathetic picture of Alice that also represents rural regional culture often scorned by urbanites of Denmark.
Mette Frandsen shows Sin City – a dream come true but frustratingly, there are no images on the Blaa Galeri website apart from an abstract by her co-exhibitor Harald Holst.
It is not clear how the two photographers’ work relates.
However Frandsen has posted these pictures on Instagram which provide some clue of the documentary nature of her work, and the quality of her colour prints, but also her taste in photography books which are included in the shot (right). The spines visible are those of Canadian Alec Soth‘s From Here to There, and Haunts by Swedish bad boy street photographer and documentarian J H Engstrom.
The volumes stand behind a Superman bookend, a figure dressed not unlike this woman shown striking a commandingly bold pose in black and blue lycra. She is set against a striated mauve, black and orange background that could be a skate park, with palm trees and low-rise buildings set against a peerless blue sky. Is this Las Vegas or Frederikshavn’s Palmestranden (Palm Beach)?
Photographer’s Instagram posts are never mere snaps, however they look, and there is a clear message in these…look out Soth and Engstrom! Frandsen is on her way!
Actually, Las Vegas is the scene for Frandsen’s project Sin City – a dream come true of 2014, for which,over two years, Mette photographed there. The pictures, taken with a film camera, were scanned and digitally processed.
Out of 300 rolls of film Frandsen edited a selection for a book and exhibition. The subject is the dream, of which she asks what it costs ‘to dream’ and what is its outcome.
These are not photographs of youthful friends, and the degeneracy is no pose; Frandsen is only satisfied with realism. If one is to question where the USA went wrong, here it is, where The American Dream fails; amongst the drifters and wanna-bes, as the Americans themselves, tellingly, might call them.
They are Frandsen’s subjects in a place that promises fortune and success, luring souls for sale. The photographs however, penetrate beneath any clichés you might throw at them, to reveal some very individual stories, gained only through her courage in approaching people and somehow gaining their confidence in a very media-savvy city.
Even before the project was finished, it featured on CNN’s photo blog, surely the realisation of a dream for Frandsen.
For the exhibition, the images above appear in colour.
Like Katrine Marie Kragh, Mette Frandsen trained at Fatamorgana, the Danish School of Documentary and Art Photography (2006) and, as did Anders Rye Skjoldjensen, she gained a BA in photojournalism from the Danish School of Media and Journalism (2010). She has exhibited and published her work since 2012, and is the winner of a number of awards.
Vice is a hot topic; which is the best approach?