In November this year, Jimei x Arles International Photography Festival, the sister festival to the renowned Rencontres d’Arles, celebrated its fourth edition in Xiamen, in China’s Fuijan province. With an overall view to “serve as a cultural exchange between France and China”, the annual event hopes to also raise the profile of photography in China by providing a meeting place for professionals in the field and providing a platform for emerging photographers to showcase their talent.
“It is a matter of promoting an idea of culture and art, that is both creative and popular, open to greater audiences but also a site for encounters between creatives,” explains Victoria Jonathan, one half of the creative direction team alongside Bérénice Angremy. “It is also an opportunity to nurture an artistic dialogue between Chinese and European artists and audiences. Ideas travel with exhibitions and art projects. For Arles, it is also an opportunity to have a foot in China and grow a deeper knowledge of the Chinese and Asian photography scenes.”
Chinese photographer Lei Lei has won the Jimei x Arles Discovery Award, giving him 200,000 RMB plus a spot in Arles’ prestigious Discovery Award exhibition and competition next summer. Born in 1985 and now living in Beijing and Los Angeles, the photographer won with the project Weekend, which uses archive images to consider history, nostalgia, and personal identity. Lei Lei’s previous projects include Hand-coloured, a joint series with French artist Thomas Sauvin which also features archive images, and which was exhibited at the Festival Images Vevey and previously published on bjp-online in December 2017.
Lei Lei was picked out from the 10 photographers shortlisted for the Discovery Award, all of whose work is currently on show in Citizen Square in Jimei, South East China. The other photographers included by the curators Dong Bingfeng, Li Jie, Chelsea Qianxi Liu, Holly Roussell and Wang Yan were: Coca Dai (1976), Hu Wei (1989), Pixy Liao (1979), Lau Wai (1982), Shao Ruilu (1993), Shen Wei (1977), Su Jiehao (1988), Wong Wingsang (1990), and Yang Wenbin (1996).
Founded in 2015 by Chinese photographer RongRong (who also also founded China’s first photography museum, Three Shadows Photography Art Centre) with Sam Stourdzé, director of Rencontres d’Arles, the Jimei x Arles International Photo Festival is the biggest of its kind in China. It returns this November with 30 exhibitions by over 70 artists, including shows brought over from Arles and exhibitions devoted to emerging Chinese image-makers.
The Jimei x Arles Discovery Award nominees features work by ten new Chinese photographers, for example – with one image-maker selected from the show to win 200,000 RMB plus a place in Arles’ prestigious Discovery Awards. This year the nominees are: Coca Dai (1976), Hu Wei (1989), Lei Lei (1985), Pixy Liao (1979), Lau Wai (1982), Shao Ruilu (1993), Shen Wei (1977), Su Jiehao (1988), Wong Wingsang (1990), and Yang Wenbin (1996)