Silent World: An Apocalyptic Photo Series

Silent World: An Apocalyptic Photo Series

Photography by: Lucie & Simon, Paris

Silent World is an engrossing short film comprised of an apocalyptic series of photographs by Paris-based filmmakers/photographers Lucie & Simon, set to the music of Philip Glass and Daft Punk. When you think of ghost towns, your mind doesn’t typically gravitate to New York City, Paris or Beijing. Yet that’s what these teeming cities have become in the hands of Lucie & Simon.

Lucie & Simon have used a digital scalpel and a special filter to remove humans from the city landscapes. They have left just enough evidence of our species’ presence, a lone woman in a blood-red coat in Madison Square Garden or a hoisted flag in Tiananmen Square, to make the mysterious, mass disappearances as uncannily disturbing as possible.

Many city dwellers no doubt have dreamed of a magically emptied and peaceful metropolis. But Silent World suggests that life would not be so peaceful in a completely silent city. It’s unnatural and threatening; the uneasy feeling of being the last person on earth could build and build until one goes mad.

Silent World: An Apocalyptic Photo Series

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Ai Weiwei’s Interlacing: A Chinese Activist’s Photographs and Videos

Ai Weiwei, Dropping a Han-Dynasty Urn, 1995

Ai Weiwei, June 1994, 1994

Ai Weiwei, Ai Weiwei, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, 1983

Ai Weiwei, Anton Wei, Lorimer Avenue Apartment, Brooklyn, 1983

Ai Weiwei, Study of Perspective, Tiananmen, 1998

Ai Weiwei’s Interlacing: A Chinese Activist’s Photographs and Videos

Interlacing is the first major exhibition of collected works by China’s renowned dissident artist Ai Weiwei, currently on display at Zurich’s Fotomuseum Winterthur. The collection consists of an extensive selection of photographs, videos and explanatory essays that present the interweaving artist as a network, company, activist, political voice, social container and agent provocateur.

Ai Weiwei is a generalist, conceptual, socially critical artist dedicated to creating friction with/and forming reality. As an architect, conceptual artist, sculptor, photographer, blogger, Twitterer, interview artist, and cultural critic, he is a sensitive observer of current topics and social problems: a great communicator and networker who brings life into art and art into life. Ai Weiwei deliberately confronts social conditions in China and in the world in ways that have captured an international audience.

In 2003, Ai Weiwei played a major role, together with the Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron, in the construction of the Olympic stadium, the so-called “Bird’s Nest.” Subsequently, he publicly repudiated the project and the whole Olympic buildup as a preposterous fraud to put on a “good face” for the international community. In 2007, 1001 Chinese visitors traveled, at his instigation, to Documenta 12 (Fairytale) in Kassel, Germany. In 2010, the world marveled at his large, yet formally minimal carpet of millions of hand-painted porcelain sunflower seeds at the Tate Modern.

Chinese officials announced in May, 2011, that the authorities were investigating Ai Weiwei on suspicion of tax evasion, after police officers had taken him from the main Beijing airport on April 3rd as he prepared to board a flight to Hong Kong. A global outcry went out, blasting the Chinese government for what was deemed a politically motivated move, claiming that the tax inquiry was a pretext to silence one of the most vocal critics of the Chinese Communist Party. The Chinese legal authorities finally released Ai Weiwei on June 22nd, after a three-month detention, apparently ending a prosecution that had become a focal point of criticism of China’s eroding human rights record. Nevertheless, the terms of his release may silence him for months or even years.

Ai Weiwei: Interlacing

Ai Weiwei: New York Photographs (with English subtitles)

Ai WeiWei: Never Sorry

Photo-Gallery: Ai Weiwei’s Interlacing/A Chinese Activist’s Photographs and Videos

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Chinese Sentiment: A Poetic and Intimate View of China

Chinese Sentiment: A Poetic and Intimate View of China

Photography by: Shen Wei, New York City

Shanghai-born photographer Shen Wei has developed an international reputation, with numerous awards and exhibitions to his credit. Shen says he was bought up “strictly and conservatively,” in Mainland China, but since relocating to New York City, his desire for self- expression has grown. His earlier collection of photographs, Almost Naked, was a series of portraits and occasional still-life images that explored how others have dealt with the emotionally complex issue of identity.

America primarily knows China as a far-away giant, a distant country of industrialism and gigantic cities. Shen Wei’s new series of photographs, Chinese Sentiment, provides us with new views and brings China closer, with more mystery and less smog. Shen commented on this collection, saying “The scale of the ultra-modern China is obviously quite pictorial and stunning. But China is much more than just skyscrapers and the Yangtze River. I am interested in seeking a poetic, intimate, and romantic China. Since 2008, I’ve traveled to numerous cities and villages all over China, with a goal of finding my authentic China.”

Shen Wei: Almost Naked

Photo-Gallery: Chinese Sentiment

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Never Sorry: Who’s So Afraid of Ai Wei Wei?

Never Sorry: Who’s So Afraid of Ai Wei Wei?

Never Sorry is a fascinating 17-minute documentary short film about China’s renowned dissident artist Ai Wei Wei by freelance filmmaker Alison Klayman, who spent several months documenting his work and life, as well as capturing his many provocations and scuffles with the government. So who’s really so afraid of Ai Wei Wei? Well, the Chinese government for one. Ai Wei Wei is China’s most famous contemporary artist, acclaimed for his solo exhibitions the world-over.

Much to the Chinese government authorities’ chagrin, Ai Wei Wei has vociferously used his fame to speak his mind. A prolific blogger and tweeter, Wei Wei often publishes angry writings against injustice, corruption and abuse, which the Chinese censors invariably take down.  Most famously, after assisting in the design of China’s renowned 2008 Olympic Stadium (the Bird’s Nest), Ai Wei Wei publicly repudiated the project and the whole Olympic buildup as a preposterous fraud to put on a “good face” for the international community.

A mere 5 days after the PBS television airing on March 29th of this short film, Ai Wei Wei was detained by police at Beijing airport, and proceeded to vanish. No word was given about where he was taken, only a vague statement from authorities that he had committed “economic crimes.” His associates and lawyer were also targeted and disappeared. A global outcry went out, blasting the Chinese government for what was deemed a politically motivated move; however, the protests appeared to have no effect. Youth culture began to assert itself, and based on the title of this short film, stencil graffiti and light tags imaging Ai Wei Wei went up all around Hong Kong and mainland China, in spite of extraordinary risks.

After 43 days of silence, Ai Wei Wei’s wife was finally allowed to visit him on May 15th. She has confirmed that he had not been maltreated and appeared to be in good health, but his imprisonment does not look as though it will be overturned any time soon. So for the time being, Ai Wei Wei is now China’s best known detainee.

Ai Wei Wei: Never Sorry

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Plum Flower Deer: A Visual Story of Courage and Rebirth

Plum Flower Deer: A Visual Story of Courage and Rebirth

Plum Flower Deer is a two-minute animated short film, with story, design and animation by Yoho Hang Yue at Toronto’s Crush Production Company. The film tells the story about a pair of Plum Flower Deer, (one of the most auspicious, divine animals in Chinese culture), who are separated by an act of man but are rejoined in spirit. The Plum Flower Tree itself has been the subject of innumerable paintings and poems, representing courage and elegance. The film draws on Chinese art and tradition, presenting an artistic rumination about love, hope, the natural world and rebirth.

Plum Flower Deer: A Visual Story of Courage and Rebirth

(Best Viewed in HD Full-Screen Mode)

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Nicholas Was: The Darker Side of Christmas

Nicholas Was: The Darker Side of Christmas

Nicholas was,
Older than sin,
And his beard could grow no whiter,
He wanted to die.

Nicholas Was is a darkly humorous animated short film, the 2010 Christmas Card created by the Beijing studio, 39 Degrees North.  The animated short is an adaptation of a wonderful poem by the fantastic Neil Gaiman.  The film begins by taking a rather unconventional route, and after that there’s simply no turning back. The pull of the dark side becomes just too strong, resulting in an arduous and thankless trip for St. Nicholas that is way beyond awesome.

Nicholas Was: The Darker Side of Christmas

(Best Watched in HD Full-Screen Mode)

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First Spring: A Good Year’s Start

First Spring: A Good Year’s Start

First Spring is a rapturously shot digital B&W fashion commercial by the talented art-world sensation, Chinese filmmaker Yang Fudong.  The film is dreamy and vague, yet rich in detail, providing an engaged viewer a wealth of material through which to dissect meaning.  Yet, it will surely frustrate the casual viewer with its lack of dialogue, perplexing narrative, and its potentially non-linear presentation.

(Best Watched in HD Full-Screen Mode)

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