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How to Return?
Some Days No.7 (2001) © Wang Ningde / M97 Gallery

How to Return?

Images by Contemporary Chinese Photographers

Adou » Song Chao » LUO Dan » WANG Ningde » LIANG Weizhou » HUANG Xiaoliang » LU Yanpeng »

Exhibition: 2 Jun – 7 Sep 2014

Dennos Museum Center

1701 E. Front St.
MI 49686 Traverse City
Mon-Sat 10-17, Sun 13-17

M97 Gallery

363 Changping Road, Building 4
200041 Shanghai



Tue-Fri 11-18; Sat, Sun 12-18

How to Return?
Looking at the Scenery No.2 (2011) © HUANG XIAOLIANG / M97 Gallery

如何回归 - How to Return?
Images by Contemporary Chinese Photographers
June 1–September 7, 2014

Organized with M97 Gallery, Shanghai

As China reaches the point of its post-boom years, Exhibition Curator, Steven Harris of M97 Gallery, suggests a more contemplative period is setting in. We are entering a time where the general pulse of society has seen through the veil of glittery consumerism and all it promised, and now artists and thinkers are looking in many ways how to return to find what’s left of their roots.

This exhibition includes works by Adou, Huang Xiaoliang, Liang Weizhou, Song Chao, Lou Dan, Lu Yanpeng, and Wang Ningde presenting contemporary images of the Chinese people and environment, reflecting tradition and change, and offering social commentary.

There will be a special reception and presentation for the exhibition on Friday, June 6, at 7 PM at the Dennos Museum Center. Exhibition curator Steven Harris of M-97 Gallery in Shanghai will offer a presentation on the exhibition at 8 PM in Milliken Auditorium. The reception is being held as the closing event to the International Affairs Forum Conference China Today: Competitor or Partner in Traverse City, June 5 and 6, 2014. Go to china.tciaf.com for more information.

The use of photography as a medium of artistic expression in China is a fairly recent development.  Not until the mid-1980s does photography begin to have a presence in exhibitions as art. With more artistic freedom in China and the exploration by Chinese photographers of western approaches to the use of the medium, we see the beginnings of more conceptual and experimental work and photography being used as a documentary statement in response to the modernization of China and a market economy.

While the emergence of photography in China has somewhat paralleled the emergence of digital imaging, not all artists have made that leap, with some choosing to work in methods that harken back to the early days of photography with glass plates and on site dark rooms  to develop the image.

How to Return?
Coal Miners #30 (2002) © SONG CHAO / M97 Gallery

Each of the artists in this exhibition brings their own unique approach and sensibility to the story they wish to tell via their imagery. While all contemporary in time, some images look historical given the techniques used, some take on surreal qualities echoing the almost surreal evolution and change taking place in the last few decades of Chinese history, while others draw up other traditional artistic techniques to realize their contemporary statements.

This exhibition is composed of photographers who have all gained international recognition for their work.  Of this group Adou and Luo Dan are perhaps most recognized for their work documenting the ethnic minority groups in China; Adou, the Yi from Sichuan Province and Luo Dan, local villagers in Yunnan Province. Song Chao, a coal miner and amateur photographer from Shandong Province, emerged on the international stage after producing an impactful series of portraits of his fellow coal miners during the period 2001-2005. A painter turned photographer, Liang Weizhou, depicts the industrialization and post-industrialization of the water towns and countryside around his native Shanghai, while Huang Xiaoliang and Lu Yanpeng present composed and landscape images of delicate and dreamlike quality, while Wang Ningde’s conceptual images explore the tension between modern China today and memories of the Cultural Revolution in his iconic series “Some Days” for which he achieved international acclaim.

This exhibition was organized with M97 Gallery in Shanghai and is scheduled to be shown at the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts and Wayne State University following its presentation here. Their collaborative support along with Huntington Bank, The Art and Mary Schmuckal Fund for the Dennos, the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Robert T. and Ruth Haidt Hughes Memorial Endowment Fund, TV 7&4 and have made this exhibition possible.