Featuring 40 pieces of “photo studio style” artworks Maleonn has practiced in the past three years, the exhibition can also be taken as the pilot project of the Mobile Photo Studio. In the show one will discover Maleonn’s latest series as well as the Studio Mobile itself. The visitors will also be able to have their portrait done in the old fashioned way. It is the very same Studio Mobile that Maleonn will then take across China to portrait people all around the country even in the most remote places. As Maleonn puts it, “I would like to provide a mirror to the viewers and, then, they are able to see some of their own thinking and senses.”
In his photographic work Maleonn has been working for years on the identity of people crossing time. Moved by their existence and memories that fade away and compared to digital photos and new technology induces memories, stored on computers, old photos have this extra emotion Maleonn wants to recreate. The artist is creating this new show to remind us not to forget that going to the photo studio was at the same time a real sense of ceremony and a pleasure that no longer exist…“You can also say that I provide a labyrinth, a huge one with lots of entrances and lots of exits as well” as he says.
My Photo Studio
I once used a Chinese idiom, “mark on the gunwale of a moving boat to indicate the place where the sword sank”, to describe my understanding of photography. In the face of the constant changes of life, a photograph is nothing but a still and silent record of a particular moment. After the shutter is pressed, that moment slipped away forever. No matter you like it or not, a photograph bears witness to what you used to possess but has lost now. Nothing artistic happen in such moments, we make beautiful yet fragile dreams, yearning for a life slightly better than the reality, while at the same time turning a blind eye to the fact that everything is fading and disappearing. This subconscious understanding of life makes everyone in the studio believe that he or she is just fabulous, and his or her life is just perfect and everything will stay on.
In fact, in recent years I have been focusing on the building of an archive of photographs, thus I was trying to recollect something with photos. Through this process I want to examine the illusion caused by photography, an illusion that makes us comfortable and warm. It seems to me that this is the most amazing job made by a visual artist. It is worthwhile to pursue a mirage just slightly better than the reality and capture it in the most flamboyant manner.
About five years ago, I started collecting old photographs produced in studios in China in different eras. The sense of ceremony and intimacy of having photographs taken in a studio is also lost in the process of the technology. I believe that certain things can never be replaced; the exchange of emotions between strangers in photography studios and commitment to perfection are the more worthwhile.
With this in mind, I started a plan in early 2011 that I should establish my own photography studio. I should use the old way of taking photographs as much as possible and I also wanted to introduce interesting and fanciful scenes. My initial move was to set up a photography studio in my to-be-relocated studio, an establishment you can see in my artworks called Maleonn Photo Studio, presented in this solo show. After the photos got published in a magazine, many friends outside Shanghai told me that they hoped I could move and launch such studios in different cities. Then, I came across the idea of a mobile studio: loading all my photography apparatus on a truck and drive it with my five friends to various cities along the highways, so that I can personally shoot photos for my friends and for those who love my artworks.
As I understand it, the ultimate goal of art is to provide comfort and happiness of a certain sort to the audience. I always hope that I am able to do something for the people with my own efforts, to create artworks that can translate into their welfare rather than command high prices at auction houses.
I want to engage further into the reality and let more people enjoy the pleasure of art. I want to help others with my actions and my works, to prevent them from being engulfed in the sea of ubiquitous materialism.
This exhibition features 40 pieces of “photo studio style” artworks that I have done in the past three years. They are all using pose shooting, installation works and a litter of props and costumes. In this sense, this exhibition is also the pilot project of the Mobile Studio.
Date: Dec 20, 2011 – Jan 30, 2012
Opening: Dec 20, 2011, 18:00, Tuesday
Venue: 18 Gallery (Shanghai) (Shanghai, China)
Organizer: 18 Gallery (Shanghai)
Courtesy of the artist, for more information please visit www.maleonn.com