Phrenology of Society: On the Photographic Series of the Family Stuff by Huang Qingjun
By Wang Chunchen
Chinese society accelerates its structural transformation when it initiated the progress of modernization. Under certain circumstances, this transformation can be seen to be very complete. This historical context provides art with great opportunities and challenges. It demands not only what befits the art form but also the artist’s response and observation in the face of the context of change. True life calls for thoughtful art.
Grounded in such a transitional era, the photographic series Family Stuff by Huang Qingjun focuses on family material in our daily lives, aiming to reflect the human nature that is embedded in them. Thus, Family Stuff becomes a prospect within which the life condition of Chinese people is examined. Images from this series are at once pictorial texts that interpret the presence of life in Chinese society and is a demonstration of the special value and function of photography as art.
As an art form, photography does not passively record reality. Rather, it demonstrates the artist’s willingness to join the real world. The Family Stuff exhibition perfectly shows a special function of images. To complete this photographic series, Huang Qingjun visited a number of areas and regions in China, selecting the most typical residential images that are in tune with current life conditions in China. These photographs are reflections of Chinese society, making them visible before our eyes, showing various characteristics and meanings.
When we face the pictures of Family Stuff, we see the internal structure of Chinese social life, the original ecology of family life is revealed, to show the life philosophy in a contemporary Chinese context from the form of things. In the process of being subjective and looking for Chinese ecology, the artist builds up the relationship between Chinese reality and fiction: the real internal space isrevealed as virtual in outer space, so the Chinese family situations are thoroughly revealed, directly through the audience’s eyes. The seemingly paradoxical scene is actually the part covered by the great transformation of Chinese history. If the artist does not directly present such clear pictures of family stuff, the materials and organization of the Chinese family would be ignored, and neverthought about, so it the result is that the artist cleverly uses photographic art to interfere with our perception. Every part of “Family Stuff” is the witness of a life of faith and conditions of survival in contemporary Chinese society, and they witness the change and the same lifestyle in the process of Chinese modernization. In the alienated space between the reality and imagination, Family Stuff discovers the logic of life in which we are located in the form of visual enlightenment, which confirms the specific presence of China in the extraordinary global transformation.
Today, to record and expose the changes of reality by images is not only the task of the time, but also the mission of responsible artists. Any image that records the current Chinese situation, as long as it is exquisite and real, may leave a file for the future. When later generations look back, they will have a direct feeling; the artist takes us through history, reading the reality of that month, that year. We can say it is more and more important to reflect on society by using images.
Huang Qingjun’s “Family Stuff” New Works Show
Host: Beautiful Gate Art Gallery in the Chinese Academy of Oil Painting
Duration: March 8 – March 22, 2015
(Communication of “Family Stuff” Photographic Series is going to be held at 14:00 on March 8)
Venue: No.1704, Gaobeidian Cultural Arts Street, Chaoyang District, Beijing
Courtesy of the artist and Beautiful Gate Art Gallery, translated by Chen Peihua and edited by Sue/CAFA ART INFO