Firewatching: Witness and Narrative

Firewatching: Witness and Narrative

24th February-15th April, 2023

1F Beijing Inside-Out Art Museum 

Ticket Price:20 yuan

Group visitors (Above 10 visitors) with reservation to visit at the appointed time.

     The tenth Inside-Out Practice exhibition presents the publishing practice of 89books, an independent press in Palermo, Sicily, Italy. Founded in 2018 by Italian photographer Mauro D’Agati and Ukrainian curator Kateryna Filyuk, 89books is committed to the discovery and experimental publication of limited-edition photo books of different forms and contents. The press has also launched the residency program, inviting artists to fine-tune an older project and turn it into a book, or to embark on shooting in Palermo with an emphasis on the locality. This exhibition features 24 volumes of 89books publications, including photography books with the themes of war and marginalized human conditions. We intend to highlight the fact that photography, as a creative medium, alongside the practice of making photography publication, has the power to testify to the multi-faceted reality and thus leave footprints in historical narratives.

    The earliest Chinese record of this region of Sicily is from the book Chu-fan-chi, written by Zhao Rushi in the Southern Song Dynasty. As it goes, “Sicilia… with the sea which a thousand miles wide… has a deep cave, and fires come out of it in all seasons. If you see it from afar, smoke and fire abound. If you view it closely, the flame savagely burn…” The title of this exhibition, “Firewatching,” both comes from the literary description and imagination of Sicily in ancient China, also refers to our desire and longing to be awakened by stimulation through photographs and their publications. Yet, there is always an ambivalence that comes along such an impulse. Indeed we are afraid of taking action or putting ourselves in real danger.

    We have divided 24 books into two chapters. The first section, titled “Seeing Clearly as Seeing Flames” mainly displays the cultural landscapes of contemporary Europe, North America, and Australia through the artists’ lens, a series of photographs based on research in Palermo, and travel pictures taken by artists in Spain, Argentina and all over the world. Scenes thousands of miles away are captured distinctly by the camera and received by our vision. After editing, a narrative is established between images, giving access for viewers to grasp the distant scenery. 

  The second chapter, titled “Watching Fire from the Other Side,” contemplates the practical significance of the testifying and narrative functions embedded in photography. Departing from these works, we try to deliberate the relevance of specific regional issues to global concerns and reflect on the imminent issues such as war, refugees, criminal resettlement strategies for the mentally ill, and the status of queer considered in some of the photo books.

    Faced with the landscape, war, disaster, human dilemma, and all kinds of hardships through photography books, we are fascinated. In the meantime, we are paradoxically worried that once we get close to reality through the lens, we might be engulfed by fire. Watching the fire from the other side of the river has long been an ancient myth in today’s highly globalized world. As we all know, I am you and you are me.

About 89books

89books is an independent publishing house based in Palermo, Sicily. Established in 2018 by photographer Mauro D’Agati and curator Kateryna Filyuk, it specialises in photobooks and artist books. 89books is committed to the discovery and experimental publication of limited edition photo-books of different forms and contents. Some of the books will be presented in a first edition of 89 copies, except for artist books that could be produced as a collector’s piece or publications printed in offset. By combining the expertise of the team and its network of collaborators, which feature local printers, binders and artisans, 89books aims to assist and promote the production of artists who use photography as their main medium and strive to compile a unique publication. 

Curator:Yanan Zhu

Yanan Zhu, currently is a curatorial assistant of Beijing Inside-Out Art Museum. Her research and creation focus on human instincts and desires and the dilemmas caused by established social structures. She graduated from University College London Slade School of Fine Arts with a Master degree in Fine Art Media and from California Institute of the Arts with a Bachelor degree in Film and Video.

Exhibition Date

February 24-April 15, 2023

Exhibition Time

 Wed.-Fri. 11:00-18:00

Sat.-Sun. 10:00-18:00

Last Entry


Exhibition Location

Beijing Inside-Out Art Foundation Zhao Wenliang & Yang Yushu Art Centre, No.50 Xingshikou Road, Haidian District, Beijing

Ticket Price

Regular Ticket: 20 RMB per person

Concession: 10 RMB per person

Concessions applied to the following audience members:

Students and teachers, with student ID and teacher ID.


Chinese, English, Italian

Barrier-free Access

We provide barrier-free access. Please make an appointment by telephone in advance. Tel: (010) 62730230


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