Lei Lei and Pixy Liao win at the 2018 Jimei x Arles festival

Chinese photographer Lei Lei has won the Jimei x Arles Discovery Award, giving him 200,000 RMB plus a spot in Arles’ prestigious Discovery Award exhibition and competition next summer. Born in 1985 and now living in Beijing and Los Angeles, the artist won with the project Weekend, which uses archive images to consider history, nostalgia, and personal identity.

“My work Weekend is a video montage of images from old magazines, a collage of old materials, I haven’t used any camera in the creation process,” said Lei Lei in an interview at the festival. “Many people must think: does it count as photography? This year’s edition of the Jimei x Arles Discovery Award has opened a new breach, the festival doesn’t consider photographers and artists as dominant authoritative figures any longer, but also genuinely turns towards the public.”

Lei Lei’s previous projects include Hand-coloured, a joint series with French artist Thomas Sauvin which also features archive images, and which was exhibited at the Festival Images Vevey and previously published on bjp-online in December 2017.

Lei Lei was picked out from the 10 image-makers shortlisted for the Discovery Award, all of whose work is currently on show in Citizen Square in Jimei, South East China. The other photographers included by the curators Dong Bingfeng, Li Jie, Chelsea Qianxi Liu, Holly Roussell and Wang Yan were: Coca Dai (1976), Hu Wei (1989), Pixy Liao (1979), Lau Wai (1982), Shao Ruilu (1993), Shen Wei (1977), Su Jiehao (1988), Wong Wingsang (1990), and Yang Wenbin (1996).

The jury for the Discovery Award included: David Chau (entrepreneur, founder of CC Foundation, co-founder of 021 and Jing Art fairs), Gu Zheng (art historian and critic), inri (photographer and co-founder of Three Shadows), Sam Stourdzé (director of Rencontres d’Arles and co-founder of Jimei x Arles) and Philip Tinari (director of UCCA, Beijing).

“This year, each member of the jury first wrote down two names,” said Chau. “We all had different choices, but we all had Lei Lei among the two names, without any prior consultation. Although no photo equipment is used in his work, he relies mainly on image and photo collages, and shows us new, unlimited possibilities for photography.”

Ping pong balls © Pixy Liao

Pixy Liao won the second Jimei × Arles – Madame Figaro Women Photographers Award, which is the first award for female photographers in China. She won the prize with her series Experimental Relationship, a visual exploration of her relationship with her Japanese boyfriend, which was also given a special juror’s mention at this year’s Paris Photo/Aperture Foundation First Photobook Award. The other women shortlisted for this prize were: Chen Xiao & Zhou Yichen, Du Yanfang, Gan Yingying, Shao Ruilu, Song Shuyang, Wu Mengyuan, and Zhou Yang. Pixy Liao’s Experimental Relationship was featured on bjp-online in November.

Founded in 2015 by Chinese photographer RongRong (who also also founded China’s first photography museum, the 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. This year it features 30 exhibitions by over 70 artists, including shows brought over from Arles, exhibitions devoted to emerging Chinese image-makers, a section devoted to South Korean image-makers, and an exhibition of vernacular photographs of food from China put together by Beijing-based, Dutch photographer Ruben Lundgren and Timothy Prus, from London’s well-respected Archive of Modern Conflict.

The opening weekend took place from 23-25 November, but the exhibitions will stay open until 02 January 2019. Read more about the exhibitions included at Jimei x Arles here https://www.1854.photography/2018/09/contemporary-chinese-photography-stars-at-jimei-x-arles/


Different types of peaches, 1990s, courtesy of The Archive of Modern Conflict, from the show Anything That Walks – Collector’s Tale
Diane Smyth

Diane Smyth is the editor of BJP, returning for a second stint on staff in 2023 - after 15 years on the team until 2019. As a freelancer, she has written for The Guardian, FT Weekend Magazine, Creative Review, Aperture, FOAM, Aesthetica and Apollo. She has also curated exhibitions for institutions such as The Photographers Gallery and Lianzhou Foto Festival. You can follow her on instagram @dismy