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Lyricism of the Times: "Crescent" Lecture and Forum Series II

Beijing Inside-Out Art Museum

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“Lyricism of the Times: 'Crescent' Lecture and Forum Series” is a series of public and educational programs to take place during the exhibition period of the exhibition, Crescent: Retrospectives of Zhao Wenliang and Yang Yushu. Based on the curatorial statement addressing the characteristics of “lyricism” and “aestheticism” of fine arts practice during the socialist period, this series of public programs invite researchers and practitioners from the field of art and literature to share their research on aesthetics, art history, and contemporary cultural studies in their respective fields. By investigating and sharing the formation of the dominant aesthetic and artistic framework, the process of its dissipation and the cracks and gaps that arise in the process, we hope to explore the interactions between the authoritative framework and the creative consciousness of art practitioners, so as to understand how and to what extent such interactions were adhered and embedded into the times. The work of these researchers and artists is based on their studies on the ideological trends and changing discourses in the Republic of China, the socialist period, and the post-socialist period, which will inspire us to carefully explore our relationship with the past and present from the multidimensional perspectives of individualism, ideology, and archaeology.

Landscape Matters: A Discussion on Outdoor Photographic Look during China’s Transitional Decade

Ren Shulin,  Labagou   in Huairou County Beiji  ng, January 1, 1979 .   Medium: Photography   Image courtesy of Ren Shulin

Ren Shulin, Labagou in Huairou County Beijing, January 1, 1979

Medium: Photography 

Image courtesy of Ren Shulin

he starting point for the resurgence of modernist photography in China is based on a hypothetical premise in the late 1970s, that is, a break with the official system of literature and art and with the creative principles, aesthetics, and even operations. The dialogue attempts to revisit the “experimental” visual practice in the form of photography during this period from the perspectives of practitioner and researcher. The speakers will start with the photographic and cultural scene of China in the 1970s to review the practices of young amateur photographers in Beijing, focusing on the interaction between the members from the Friday Salon and April Photography Society, especially their activities, exhibitions and outdoor practices in parks and suburbs. From the perspective of the relationship between the past and the present, the dialogue aims to raise the question: Can we regard the visual experience and photographic practice of the individuals as an unstable historical phenomenon full of contradictions and problematics, rather than a simplistic cut-off from the past?

We are pleased to invite Ren Shulin, a member of the Friday Salon and April Photography Society, and Zhou Dengyan, a scholar of photography history, to enter into a dialogue on the topics as above. This event is predicated on the outdoor art activities during the socialist period, an agenda brought up in the Crescent exhibition, investigating and reviewing the complicated relationship of interaction between such activities and the individuals / national authorities. The dialogue integrates the individual practice of Ren Shulin with Zhou Dengyan’s scholarly perspectives to initiate an in-depth discussion between artistic practice and research.

Time: 2pm, April 14, 2018

Venue: Conference Room, Beijing Inside-Out Art Museum

Speakers: Ren Shulin, Zhou Dengyan

Zhou Dengyan, a historian of photography who earned her PhD in art history from Binghamton University and is now teaching at Beijing Film Academy. She is the editor of Quanguo sheying yishu zhanlan bangongshi koushu shiliao ji/A History of “The National Photographic Art Exhibition Office:” Reminiscences and Documentary Materials 1972–1978 (Hong Kong: Shanghai Press, 2015). Her research on Chinese photographic concepts received a Joan and Stanford Alexander Award from the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Dr. Zhou’s recent publications can be found in OSMOS, British Art Studies, Trans Asia Photography Review, Photographies, Chinese Photographers and Theory and Criticism of Literature and Art.

Ren Shulin, born in Beijing in 1954, graduated from the department of photography at Beijing Broadcasting Institute and the department of Chinese at Beijing Normal University. He worked as a locksmith for eight years, as a director of science and education films for 15 years, and spent eight years in advertisement photography. In 1976, he studied under Mr. Di Yuancang and started photography as the main member of the Friday Salon and a chief member of the April Photography Society.