Photography’s past and future at Pingyao International Photography Festival

A gathering of master photographers and shutterbugs, the 2019 Pingyao International Photography Festival (PIP) kicked off Thursday in north China’s ancient town.

The one-week festival, in its 19th edition, will draw more than 4,000 photographers from 31 countries and regions to Pingyao, which is one of China’s best-preserved ancient cities and was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1997.

As the annual grand ceremony for contemporary photographers worldwide, it showcases images from more than 50 countries each year in indoor and outdoor venues across the over-2,000-year-old city in Shanxi Province.
This year’s event includes a total of 628 exhibitions, featuring some 12,619 photographic artworks, including nearly 5,000 pieces from more than 1,100 domestic and foreign students, under the theme of “Happiness and Efforts,” according to the organizing committee.

Because this year is the 180th anniversary of the invention of photography, the event will explore the craft’s history and its future development.

Zhang Guotian, artistic director of the festival, noted at the press conference in August that this year marks the 180th anniversary of the invention of photography, and it makes the event more special as photographers around the globe will meet in Pingyao to recall the history of photography and explore its future development. One of the main exhibitions, “We,” pays tribute to China’s 70th anniversary with a 70 different group photographs taken by 70 (groups of) renowned Chinese photographers. 

This year’s PIP special project takes a unique approach to the depiction of the country and its distinct landscapes, industries, social and economic changes, cultural traditions, traits and events over the last seven decades.

Themed “Light and Color,” this year’s academic exhibitions, at the helm of Chinese and Russian curators, are a collection of archives and artworks that reflect the development of photography and the improvement of techniques.

These exhibitions are held to commemorate the 180th anniversary of “daguerreotype” – the first permanent photographic process freely released to the world in 1839.

An exhibition will be held to pay homage to Taipei-based photographer Chuang Ling, who has dedicated his entire career to photography for more than 60 years. His photographic works highlight the “trueness” and “naturalness” of images.

Chuang was born in Guizhou Province in 1938 and then moved to Taiwan with his parents at the age of 10. The 81-year-old photographer has made remarkable contributions to cross-Strait cultural exchanges and cooperation.

The tribute exhibition, named “Eternal Mountains Fixed in Photographs,” will surround Chuang’s most famous work series in his earlier life – “Father and Family” and “My Art Teachers and Friends,” presenting a huge number of representative pieces to show his artistic practice and characteristics.

Face to face with masters

Legendary Russian photographer Vladimir Vyatkin is one of the big names on the guest list of this year’s PIP.

The multi-award-winning photographer has produced a remarkable body of work focusing on conflicts and the humanitarian consequences of war. He’s won accolades at more than 160 global photography contests and festivals, including five World Press Photo Awards.

Some of Vyatkin’s work will be on display at an exhibition, introducing the classic images during the former Soviet Union and Russian photojournalism.

There will be totally 36 international exhibitions in the following week, featuring over 2,000 pieces of works from 523 foreign photographers.

Aside from numerous exhibitions with distinct themes and subjects, the festival also includes diverse activities, such as forums, workshops and lectures.

In addition, photography fans are offered a chance to communicate with the professionals face to face during the festival. This year, veteran Russian curator Irina Chmyreva, photographer Andrei Polikanov, American photographer Patti Hallock and creative director Carol Johnson will be in attendance.

Founded in 2001, the PIP is recognized as one of China’s most internationally influential ten festivals by the International Festivals & Events Association (IFEA) and hailed as the Oscars at the photographic arena in the country.

The festival will run through next Wednesday, September 25.

Source: CGTN                                                                                   Update: September 20, 2019