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Reality and scenic fiction in Peng Xiangjie’s photography

2016-08-13 17:57:13  source: Photointer [Special Manuscript]  author: Giulia Pra Floriani  editor: suyuezhuo
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Artist:Ljubodrag,Zaven Khachikyan,Michela Forte, Peng Xiangjie
Curator:Gabriella Serusi
Opening Ceremony:May 4 2016
Period:May 4 2016 - July 16 2016
Address:Galleria In Arco 1-3 (Piazza Vittorio Veneto, 1-3)


LATITUDES | Abitare la distanza (leaving the distance ) Photo by Galleria In Arco

LATITUDES | Abitare la distanza (leaving the distance ) Photo by Galleria In Arco

LATITUDES | Abitare la distanza (leaving the distance ) Photo by Galleria In Arco

LATITUDES | Abitare la distanza (leaving the distance ) Photo by Galleria In Arco

Reality and scenic fiction in Peng Xiangjie’s photography

Text/Giulia Pra Floriani

Photography/Peng Xiangjie

Photography: Peng Xiangjie

Peng Xiangjie’s photographs are taken by a Mamiya from the 70s and printed by the artist himself in the dark room. Through the various shades of black and white, he’s looking for a space to give to a world that is slowly disappearing. The photographer’s intention is to draw our eye to some special situations which normally escape the attention, remaining unnoticed. It is as if Peng Xiangjie wanted to tell us that the characters standing in the photographs, who are posing for portraits, require and demand the public's interest: Peng Xiangjie provides them with a pedestal on which they can show themselves off.

The interest of Peng Xiangjie addresses the uncertain borderland between the truth and the scenic fiction. One of the issues these photographs offer is the twofold. Inside the thin boundary between real life and spectacular fantasy, the man stops to reflect on itself and the multitude of its faces, focusing on the inconsistent border line that separates being and non-being, self and others, black and white. The ambiguity of Peng Xiangjie’s photographs lies not only in his showing the different faces man changes during the transition from one stage to another and from one reality to another, but also explores the ambivalence of the photographer, who’s actually actively participating in the performance: He’s not an external gaze detached from actor’s life, but a performer who gets in contact with his subjects, manipulating them to build a scene that swings in the balance between theater and spontaneity.

In particular, the series Twins focuses on a curious phenomenon that takes place in the town of Mojiang; an incredible number of twins (more than 1,300 pairs) are discovered within the Hani community. We are all used to looking at ourselves through a mirror, but what if we were faced with an image of ourselves which is constantly present, who speaks to us, that is so equal and so dissimilar to us as only a twin brother can be?

Twins 2014-2015

Twins 2014-2015

Photography is the medium that par excellence befits duplication and reproduction. It is proposed as the medium to capture this special reflection that, far from being ephemeral and fleeting, becomes flesh and blood.

In the images of Peng Xiangjie, reality and theatrical fiction, life and art mix together in an inseparable union where just the balance of the two elements can guarantee a successful performance. In this zone of indeterminacy Peng Xiangjie intervenes, investigating the psychological components that occur when a human poses and shows itself to the others.

Since 1992, Peng Xiangjie closely followed a circus performers company to witness the life of jugglers, acrobats, dancers and singers; with a special interest in the quirky characters that are the circus world’s soul: dwarves, strippers, snake-body women; whose presence in popular culture is slowly fading under the breath of modernity. Both the intimate world of the behind the scenes life and the stage performance are recorded in the cycle of photographs entitled The wondering tent. The circus tent movements and changes are experienced by the photographer in close contact with the members of the company: it is the shortening of the distance between audience and actor to ensure that the moment captured projects these images in a new documentary photography dimension that, far from just narrate, constantly challenges the roles of who observes and who’s observed.

Wandering Tent 1992-2002

Wandering Tent 1992-2002

Wandering Tent 1992-2002

Wandering Tent 1992-2002

Wandering Tent 1992-2002

Wandering Tent 1992-2002

Wandering Tent 1992-2002

In the series Dwarves Empire and Twins, the interest of Peng Xiangjie is attracted by the ethnic and cultural diversity of Yunnan Province, located in southern China: The little men country, a theme park that is home to a wider community of dwarf actors and dancers, is once again perceived, in these photographs, as a concrete bridge between reality and fiction. The small houses are perceived as part of a surreal Smurfs city by those who enter the park as a spectator, while they turn into real life for those who live within the carousel. The roundabout composed by who amuses and who gets amused, who deceives and who is deceived, who laughs and who is laughed, far from being encased in a predetermined pattern, is flexible: it varies continuously depending on through which eyes we observes the scene.

Giulia Pra Floriani

Xi’An, 2016 March 27th

Dwarves Empire 2011-2012

Dwarves Empire 2011-2012

Peng Xiangjie
1991 First engaged in photography, focussed on village daily life and funerary ceremony in Shaanxi (Central China).
1993 Worked as photographer in Publicity and Culture Division of XAC

SOLO EXHIBITIONS
2015 “Twins”, The 6th Dali International Photography Exhibition, Dali, Yunnan
2014 “Outsider”, Chendu Photography Center, Chendu, Sichuan
2013 “Dwarves Empire”, The 5th Dali International Photography Exhibition, Dali, Yunnan
2012 “The Wandering Belief”, Gucang Contemporary Photo Gallery, Lanzhou, Gansu
2011 “All Sorts of People”, The 3rd Dali International Photography Exhibition, Dali, Yunnan
2005 “Wandering Tent”, The Pingyao International Photography Festival, Pingyao
“Cotton-picking” Women Migrant in New Century, The First Guilin International Photography Festival, Guilin
2003 “The Circus in China”, 2003 VISA International Photojournalism Festival, Perpignan, France
2002 “Wandering Tent”, Hanam International Photo Festival, Seoul, Korea
2001 Yipin International Photography Festival, Documentary photography winner, Shandong

GROUP EXHIBITIONS
2015 Chinese Photography:Twentieth Century And Beyond,Three Shadows Photography Art Centre,Beijing
Contemporary Chinese Photography Collection, Cipa, Beijing
Grain to Pixel — A Story of Photography in China, SHANGHAI CENTER OF PHOTOGRAPHY
“The First Edition Of ChangJiang International Photography & Video Biennale”,Chongqing Changjiang Museum of Contemporary Art, Chongqing
“The Transformations Of A Thread”, Xi'an Art Museum, Xi'an
2014 “Face-to-face vhs-photogalerie Stuttgart 2014”,Stuttgart, Germany
2013 “Let It Be”, OFOTO Gallery, Shanghai
Photographers: Network Selection 2013, Siegen, Germany
2010 “THE SUMMER SOLSTICE”, OFOTO Gallery, Shanghai
2008 “MADE IN CHINA” - Chinese photography, The International Festival of Photography, Lodz, Poland
“China – Portrait of a Country”, Today Art Museum, Beijing
2007 “CHINA”, Siegen, Germany
2005 Exhibition of Fifty Photographers of Fifty Countries in the world "24 hours in the life of the Catholic Church", Cologne, Germany
2004 “The 5th International San Francisco Photographic Art Exposition”, San Francisco, USA
2003 “Humanism in China” - A Contemporary Record of Photography, Guang Dong Museum of Art, Guangzhou

PUBLICATION
1999 “Photo album ”, Hong Kong New Era Publishing House.
2006 “Photo album” , One of the Chinese Photographers Series, China Worker Publishing House.
Magazine: “Chinese Photography”, “Popular Photography”, ”FOCUS”, “National Geographic”, “Photo”, “Stern”、”Private”. “El Semanal”, “Marie Claire”, “Mingpaoweekly”, “Phoenix Weekly”, “TVBS Weekly”, etc

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