Sunday, February 22, 2009

Wang Ningde (王宁德)- Interview Part I

Wang Ningde is one of my favorite contemporary photographers in China - perhaps not surprisingly, he spends most of his time as a photojournalist.

These are from his "Somedays" series, which has gotten play abroad - see the Goedhuis Contemporary on him, and this SF Camerawork piece. Taking a stab at translating sources on him - below is a choppy first take at the first portion of an interview with Chinese blogger Li Nan.

It's quite a bit longer - will upload the rest soon.

Wang Ningde’s Influences: My understanding of photography, from my contempt of it.
Guest: Wang Ningde
Moderator: Li Nan
Piece: Photographic Reproductions of The Mona Lisa

When I asked Wang Ningde “What differences do you sense, visually and in meaning, between the original and the reproductions of the image?” the photographer replied slyly: “ You’re analysis is quite adept - the question you’ve asked is the question I’d like to ask. You’d surely answer this question better than I might.” Of course, I wasn’t about to fall for that answer – what I was interested in, really, was the fact that this particular memory of a budding interest in photography is shared by many. I, for example, immediately think of the many beautiful hanging wall calendars I saw as a child, all reproducing famous works of art from the West. Photography is its own form of expression, yet at the same time, can serve merely as the medium for other forms, and in the process of pervasive transmission, the medium of representation becomes a part of the artwork itself.

Within the lively contemporary art scene, re-performance of classic works is a standard. In choosing to revisit such a masterpiece, Wang Ningde’s sensibilities seem “modernized” as well.


To be honest, it’s been something like five years since I read up on/studied any image. So, I can only revisit my childhood. Of course, I have to think about how to make this all sound a bit more exciting – I’ll be speaking of a photographer whose name I don’t even know.

I was born in 1972, and it would have been around the early 80s – I wasn’t even old enough to be in school yet. One afternoon, at my grandmother’s house, I found a stack of magazines in the corner by the wall. It probably was the Liaoning Youth , and on the back cover was a print of the Mona Lisa. The Cultural Revolution hadn’t ended too long ago, and famous art from around the world, particularly Renaissance works, were being printed en masse. My feeling is that monumental changes happened earlier in this arena than any other realm of sentiments or attitudes.

It was this reproduction – this “photograph” – that sparked my deep interest in photography, planting the seeds of art in my young soul, moving me to where I am today. (Laughs).


No comments:

Post a Comment