Chinese photography's history in Norway / Entertainment / The Foreigner

Chinese photography's history in Norway. STAVANGER: “There is some magic about this photograph”, Vibece Salthe, the curator at Stavanger Art Museum told The Foreigner, when we stopped in front of the photograph of Milton Miller entitled A comprador and his son. It is one of her favorites in this exhibition. The photograph was taken between 1860 and 1864 in China and presents a portrait. The serious faces of the old man sitting and the young boy standing next to him capture attention and when you come closer. You start to see all the details like a little watch attached to the boy’s belt, even the old man’s stomach sticking out of his clothes. There is a specific dynamic between them and the photographer, and it makes you easily imagine the whole situation when the picture was being taken. “But you really have to spend some time with the exhibition to be able to pick your favorite photograph”, Ms. Salthe remarked.

china, photography, art, stavanger, chinese, norway, camera, painting



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Chinese photography's history in Norway

Published on Friday, 5th September, 2014 at 19:21 under the entertainment category, by Martyna Kwaśniewska.
Last Updated on 5th September 2014 at 21:24.

STAVANGER: “There is some magic about this photograph”, Vibece Salthe, the curator at Stavanger Art Museum told The Foreigner, when we stopped in front of the photograph of Milton Miller entitled A comprador and his son.

Lotus Shoes
Silk with silk embroidery and metallic thread, cotton, and wood. This exhibit was lent by the School of Mission and Theology, Stavanger.Lotus Shoes
Photo: ©2014 Michael Sandelson/The Foreigner


It is one of her favorites in this exhibition. The photograph was taken between 1860 and 1864 in China and presents a portrait. The serious faces of the old man sitting and the young boy standing next to him capture attention and when you come closer. You start to see all the details like a little watch attached to the boy’s belt, even the old man’s stomach sticking out of his clothes. There is a specific dynamic between them and the photographer, and it makes you easily imagine the whole situation when the picture was being taken.

“But you really have to spend some time with the exhibition to be able to pick your favorite photograph”, Ms. Salthe remarked.

Collection of photos from the exhibition
Collection of photos from the exhibition
The Getty Research Institute
The exhibition of Chinese photography at the Stavanger Art Museum, Brush & Shutter, presents the beginnings of photography and its early period in China. It is on loan to Museum from The Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles, and is being shown in Europe for the first time. The European premiere of this auspicious collection of photographs taken both by Chinese and foreign photographers in Stavanger is an opportunity for both artistic experiences and a cultural history lesson.

“All these are original photographs, many of them don’t have negatives, so these are the only ones in existence”, explained the curator.

The exhibition attempts to present an overview of Chinese photography’s history, even though a complete overview is not possible because the material is so extensive. Ms. Salthe said that Brush & Shutter’s historical range expands from the start of photography until 1911 when the Qing Dynasty fell. The Stavanger Art Museum plans another exhibition presenting photography from China, Performance and Imagination.This exhibition, from the 15th of September to the 25th of January 2015, is a chronological continuation of Brush & Shutter. It will cover the photographic period from 1911 up to the present. 

Portrait of a family, 1839, Giacomo Caneva
Portrait of a family, 1839, Giacomo Caneva
Getty Research Institute/Kelton Foundation
There were only paintings and porcelain tableware that had showed the country to the outside world before Westerners brought photography to China. The Chinese artistic influences with their stylistic elements, shapes, decorative patterns and asymmetric format are defined in art know as Chinoiserie. This artistic concept has been always of a great interest of Western photographers, and this trend is still present nowadays.

“People find China fascinating since it is quite exotic for us”, said Ms. Salthe, “but we have had Chinese visitors here in the Museum during the exhibition and it has been very interesting for them too. They have never seen these kind of photographs from their country before”.

Asked about the title of the exhibition the curator said that brush is simply describing a painter’s tool, and shutter a part of a camera responsible for exposing the film by opening and closing this device. It sounds simple, but the message of these two words put together into a title is about the difference between paintings and photography. The exhibition also concerns the dynamics between these two art areas.

“Many Chinese photographers were painters first and then they took up photography”, she explained.

Tingqua, Chinese, Gouache on paper
Tingqua, Chinese, Gouache on paper
Lent by The Kelton Foundation
Moreover, Brush and Shutter shows different ways of taking pictures and ways of presenting the population, which is why visitors to the Museum can see a mixture of Western and Chinese photographers’ techniques. According to Ms. Salthe, Westerners find it important to try to find the inner self of the person in the photograph, using shadow, taking pictures from the side. Many of the Chinese photographers, on the other hand, had their models sitting completely in front of them, no shading on the face, showing their long fingernails – a status symbol. They also showed their small feet, with personal belongings in the background: to show a model’s personality, occupation, social status, telling the viewer who they were in that manner.

“The photographs were also the way of representing the population. Even though people presented in the pictures were sometimes very low in the social hierarchy, they were represented in a very respectable way on the photographs”, said Ms. Salthe.

The China Island Mission/R.C. Cathedral at Hankou
The China Island Mission/R.C. Cathedral at Hankou
Unknown photographer/Getty Research Institute
“The photography makes you see things in a different way. Suddenly you could actually see the people, see the things, and you can also see the way that they would present themselves”, noted Director of The Stavanger Art Museum, Hanne Beate Ueland.

She also emphasized that in case of China, the photography has given a chance to give the impression of this very closed world.

“You can go deeper and deeper into the exhibition and you will still learn more and more. Every time when you look at the exhibition you can see something new, something that you have not noticed before”, concluded curator Vibece Salthe.

Brush and Shutter started in mid-August and will be displayed until the 16th of November this year.

All photos: ©2014 Michael Sandelson/The Foreigner



Published on Friday, 5th September, 2014 at 19:21 under the entertainment category, by Martyna Kwaśniewska.
Last updated on 5th September 2014 at 21:24.

This post has the following tags: china, photography, art, stavanger, chinese, norway, camera, painting.





  
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