06 Zhou Lan, “The World Is Extremely Small”, C-print, 58 x 180 cm

“The World Is Extremely Small” Zhou Lan’s Solo Exhibition of Photography is opening at 798 Art Bridge Gallery at 15:00 on November 21, 2015. The beauty of photography comes from critical observation and an honest presentation. The photographic series, “The World Is Extremely Small”, created in a documentary style, is Zhou Lan’s true pictorial record of her parents’ daily lives from the time when her mother was hospitalized with a critical illness to the time when she was discharged. Birth, aging, illness and death are natural stages of life that one has to face. Her photography shows a controlled delicateness, the use of simple and refined techniques, keenly and vividly capturing the details and the characters which are skillfully created with delicate natural light and implicit colors. The works are simple and yet concise, successfully reflecting a very weighty theme. The exhibition was planned by the famous photographer Prof. Weng Naiqiang.

How big is the world?

Text by Zhou Lan

When I was a child, I used to think that the world was as limited as shown by the rotating tellurion and the unfolded map. It was not until I became an adult that I began to understand that the word “world” referred to not only a geographical entity but also what was visible from one’s eyes, what was in one’s heart, what was in one’s imagination, what was in one’s history, what was in one’s unknown future, what was in one’s books or paintings, what was behind one’s language and so on. “World” referred to both reality and virtual space. It referred to both the infinite and the finite.

As far as an individual is concerned, the boundary of one’s world differs depending on the person. The world can be big at one time or it can be small at another. When one is knocked down by illness and then becomes bedridden and hopeless, all good things will instantly turn into pain, longing and helplessness.

After her seventieth birthday, my mother fell ill. Her daily life and even her thoughts were embraced by life and death.

Suddenly, the world was extremely small.

My Appreciation of “The World Is Extremely Small”

Looking at this set of Zhou Lan’s photographic works, I felt overtaken by emotions. My eyes swelled with tears and my heart was stirred and could not calm down.

Birth, aging, illness and death are natural stages of life that one has to face. When I was hospitalized, I also had the thought of working on a project like Zhou Lan’s, but I never had the courage to start it.

The photographic series, “The World Is Extremely Small”, was created in a documentary style, is Zhou Lan’s true pictorial record of her parents’ daily lives from the time when her mother was hospitalized in critical conditions to the time when she was discharged. Illness is merciless and enduring the suffering is frustrating. What is comforting and touching is the deep love and mutual understanding shared by the couple during difficult times. The ability to gain insight into life through observation comes not only from one’s love for life but also from one’s sensitivity to life. Zhou Lan’s works demonstrate her careful observations, simple and refined techniques and keen and vivid capture of details. Her photography shows controlled delicateness. Her characters are skillfully created with delicate natural light and implicit colors. These works are simple and yet concise, successfully reflecting a very heavy theme without affection or sensationalism.

The beauty of photography comes from critical observation and sincere presentation. I believe that the audience will be able to perceive the true meaning of life and comprehend much of the understatement of these works.

Beijing, China

October, 2015

Professor Weng Naiqiang

About the Artist

Graduated from Central Academy of Arts and Crafts in 1994 with a Bachelor’s degree; a MA (Merit) from University of the Arts London. Currently an associate professor and postgraduate supervisor at CAFA, Zhou Lan was a visual system design director for many exhibitions and academic activities. She got the Best Award at Present based on the Art Work that best represented the 2014 KOSES International Invitation Exhibition from the Euro Design Center, Korea. Her works have been exhibited and collected both at home and abroad. The World is Extremely Small helped her win the 2014 China National Arts Fund’s Grant for Photographic Talents. Her publications include Black and White Photography, Look at London through Windows. She has also published dozens of academic papers including Thought Analysis of Images, The Third Result of Photography.

About the Exhibition

Curator: Weng Naiqiang

Opening Reception: November 21, 2015 15:00-17:00

Duration: November 21 – December 2, 2015

Address: Art Bridge Gallery, D09-1 798 Art District, No.4, Jiuxianqiao Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing

Organizer: 798 Art Bridge Gallery

Support: 2014 China National Arts Fund’s Grant Project.

Text and photo by the artist, partly translated by Chen Peihua and edited by Sue/CAFA ART INFO

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