Founded in 2015 by Chinese photographer RongRong (who also also founded China’s first photography museum, Three Shadows Photography Art Centre) with Sam Stourdzé, director of Rencontres d’Arles, the Jimei x Arles International Photo Festival is the biggest of its kind in China. It returns this November with 30 exhibitions by over 70 artists, including shows brought over from Arles and exhibitions devoted to emerging Chinese image-makers.
The Jimei x Arles Discovery Award nominees features work by ten new Chinese photographers, for example – with one image-maker selected from the show to win 200,000 RMB plus a place in Arles’ prestigious Discovery Awards. This year the nominees are: Coca Dai (1976), Hu Wei (1989), Lei Lei (1985), Pixy Liao (1979), Lau Wai (1982), Shao Ruilu (1993), Shen Wei (1977), Su Jiehao (1988), Wong Wingsang (1990), and Yang Wenbin (1996). They were selected by curators Dong Bingfeng, Li Jie, Chelsea Qianxi Liu, Holly Roussell and Wang Yan.
Pixy Liao’s work has also been nominated for the second Jimei × Arles – Madame Figaro Women Photographers Award, the first-ever photography award for women in China. In addition to Liao – whose book Experimental Relationship Vol I has also been nominated for the Paris Photo/Aperture Foundation First Photobook Award – the other women on the shortlist are: Chen Xiao & Zhou Yichen, Du Yanfang, Gan Yingying, Shao Ruilu, Song Shuyang, Wu Mengyuan, and Zhou Yang.
Last year’s Jimei x Arles Discovery Award winner was Feng Li, who exhibited his series White Night at Arles this summer. Feng Li now returns to the Jimei x Arles International Photo Festival with new work, White Night at Rencontres d’Arles, which he was commissioned to make while in France. This year Arles also showed the series The Bliss of Conformity by Guo Yingguang, who won the 2017 Jimei × Arles – Madame Figaro Women Photographers Award, and was nominated for the 2017 Jimei × Arles Discovery Award.
The Fluctuation show also gathers together work by female Chinese photographers – seven in total, many of whom are also nominated for the Jimei × Arles – Madame Figaro award; Cai Yirong, Cao Mengwen, Du Yanfang, Gan Yingying, Song Shuyang, Wu Mengyuan, and Zhou Yang. This show was curated by Gan Yingying, and is included in the China Pulse and Crossover Photography section, which was selected after an open call for curatorial projects.
This section also includes: A Long Day in a Regular Year by Li Lang (curated by Liu Jie); Eyes of Sky – 1950’s and 1960’s Aerial Photos of Southeastern Coastal Cities of China (proposed by Xu Lin and Gu Zheng); and You Are Not Paranoid, Observe Yourself Being Watched (curated by Shanghai and New York-based MiA Collective). The Local Action section, meanwhile, features work by image-makers and curators who are based in and around Jimei, which is in the Xiamen coastal district of East China.
The Collector’s Tale returns to Jimei x Arles this year, putting the focus on another prominent archive put together by a collector based in China. This year the exhibition Anything That Walks – Vernacular Food Photography from China has been put together by Beijing-based, Dutch photographer Ruben Lundgren with Timothy Prus from London’s well-respected Archive of Modern Conflict, collating an eclectic mix of amateur photographs of Chinese food and food production.
Jimei x Arles also stages an exhibition of work from another Asian country each year, and this year it’s picked out South Korea, with the Greetings from South Korea section featuring exhibitions of work by three generations of South Korean image-makers. Jimei x Arles also includes work by Western photographers, including eight exhibitions taken from this year’s Les Rencontres d’Arles plus the Arles 2018 Book Awards exhibition, and now a new section called Project Room, dedicated to photographers who push the boundaries of photography. The inaugural Project Room will be 3DPRK – Portraits of North Korea by Beijing and Ljubljana-based photographer Matjaž Tančič, which was recently published by celebrated Chinese photobook specialist Jiazazhi Press.
The opening weekend, which will take place from 23-25 November, will feature events and activities such as a portfolio review, lectures, and guided tours. Jimei x Arles will have three main sites around the city this year – Three Shadows Xiamen Photography Art Centre and Jimei Citizen Square Main Exhibition Hall, in Jimei district, and new creative zone North Shore Art District in Xiamen’s city centre.