Constructed Realities

Lisanne Hoogerwerf, Brigitte Spiegeler, Wang Xin

Exhibition Dates: 2022年9月24日 - 10月30日

ArtCN Gallery, in cooperation with the Consulate General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Shanghai, is delighted to present "Constructed Realities", a photography group exhibition featuring the latest works of artists from China and the Netherlands. This exhibition is the fifteenth in the Dutch Artist in Shanghai series, an on-going program initiated by the Consulate to introduce and promote both established and emerging Dutch visual artists to the Chinese public. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China and the Kingdom of the Netherlands establishing diplomatic relations. This exhibition celebrates the in-depth exchanges in culture and art between the two countries, and is also the latest in a series demonstrating the ongoing goal of ArtCN to promote an artistic dialogue between Chinese and foreign artists

Constructed Realities

"Constructed Realities includes three artists from China and the Netherlands. The exhibition tries to ponder the relationship between photography and reality through these three artists’ explorations of photography, especially explorations featuring 'constructed photography', and to promote thinking about the relationship between photography viewing and truth as well as reality. It is noteworthy that these three photographers, from both China and the Netherlands, are all women. This coincidence is based on the fact: there are a large number of women in both China and the Netherlands using photography as a way of artistic expression. The original intention of this exhibition is offer more possibilities to get to know photography and more opportunities for further communication between photographers from China and the Netherland. We sincerely hope that this exhibit will be able to bring new experiences and enjoyment to all the visitors, not only in terms of knowing about photography in the Netherlands and China, but also in terms of understanding the various possibilities of photography.

Shanghai experienced a lockdown this spring. For a period of time, the antigen self-test kits (antigens for short) became the center of people’s daily lives, and doing self-tests became a new daily routine during the lockdown. Based on these unique experiences, the Chinese artist Wang Xin built various mini 'constructions' with used antigens she collected and put human-like figures into them to express her wild imagination and inner feelings. This series with the title, Antigens Ground, embodies the emotions, moods and inner feelings during the lockdown through combining photography with 'ready-made objects' from the lockdown period. In addition, she also photographed the urban landscape during the lockdown, and expressed inner feelings under these unusual circumstances with dramatic lights and shadows and variable perspectives. In a way, this is a kind of mental resistance as well as a demonstration against the invisible virus.

Lisanne Hoogerwerf’s constructed photography has already gained wide recognition. She constructs buildings based on terroirs and traditional culture in the Netherlands in front of hand-painted backgrounds and records them in a photographic way. Her pictures are combinations of painting and photography, alternating between realism and surrealism, with a distinct flavour of the Netherlands, yet present her space poetics and her own imagination well. Her works are both embodiments of a certain 'Dutch type' and a new example for the exploration in 'neo-pictorialism' breaking through the limits of photography in a trans-media approach. 'Ready-made' Art promotes the idea of making subject matter from objects around us in order to break the line separating life and art. Both photographers – Wang and Hoogerwerf – use materials that could be easily found in daily life. By means of dramatic image construction, they not only re-examine the relationship between life and art but provide imaginative images that are alienated by photography as well.

Combining things means to bring them together. And bringing things together can create unexpected surprises and interactions. Brigitte Spiegeler superimposes various kinds of images and covers these superimposed images with dreamy colours. With poetic and philosophically graphic language, she creates the possibility of the images crossing over and filtering into each other so that the images are endowed with the power to expand imagination. With this multi-structural pattern of images, she re-examines the relationship between nature and culture, all the while calling into question its reproduction.

These three photographers have explored the relationship between 'construction' and 'seeing' with their different concepts and methods. These explorations provide us new ways of thinking about photography and offer us the possibility to extend and then further confirm the media properties of photography as a way of viewing and expressing. Therefore, their photography definitely brings us the unexpected as well as welcome inspiration!" 

——Gu Zheng

Curator, Professor at Fudan University