ISBN : 978-988-99906-4-0
Publisher : Osage Shanghai
Date Published : April 2008
Author : Ella Liao, Gu Zheng, Lin Lu
Editor : Agnes Lin
Designer : Joseph Yiu
Curator : Ella Liao
Artist/s: : Miao Jiaxin, Wang Yichun
This publication was published as the catalogue to the exhibition, Good Night My Beauty held at Osage Shanghai from 09 April to 08 May 2008.
Good Night My Beauty is a tale of two photi exhibitions: Good Night by Miao Jiaxin and My Beauty by Wang Yiqun.
In the daytime, New York is noisy, crowded and full of action, but when night comes, the city turns its other face. We see dirty snow on the road, garbage piled up on the street corners, graffitti on the walls, road blocks lying around and traffic lights flickering in the lonely dark. Here “New York” is only a landmark.What it really shows are features of every modern city. In it, the artist Miao Jiaxin casts off his naked self in public spaces, as if he was pile of garbage, consumed by human beings, broken, deserted and ignored, covered by snow and frozen in the cold. Through his won experience, he explores people’s status of existence and their relationship with the environment, indicating that everything is transient in a consumer society and that these are the rules of the game. The artist discards the body of a human being in the urban street as if it was a useless object. BY falling very low, he rejects a seemingly harmoniuos coexistence with the society.
Although the photographer’s body is always present, it is not his intention to play “hide and seek” with the viewers. The photographer steps out from behind the camera, trying to disappear in his own pictures, and his “escapes” cause confusion among the viewers. The interpretation of photography is both a semantic and a non-semantic one. Photography is not as abstract as music or as direct as words. Its charms lies in its inherent ambiguity and people always expect to see the world through it. In Miao Jiaxin’s Good Night series, the truth of images is even more powerful than the truth of the world. The panoramic composition ignores the visual focus, and the collective escape of subjects and objects tear down the last veil between us and the truth, pointing directly at our obsolete inner world.
Miao Jiaxin has skillful photographic techniques. Although the pictures were taken at night, we can still see the details clearly. He gives the utmost attention to light, dark details and grain. Each photo can be seen as a perfect presentation of New York at night-time, and is therefore a representation of the artist’s perfectionist ideal. The title “Good Night” carries a calm and cozy tone. Embracing the quiet night and beautiful body, his art stands in ashiny pose, opposite a shiny New York.
There was once a famous horror story. A man lost his way in a desert. After days and nights of traveling, he finally saw a tree. Under the tree sat a woman. He approached the tree, and saw the woman with a long pigtal. He called her, and she turned around. What he saw was another long pigtail. My Beauty is the ending this story, and the end is only the start of a new despair.
Wang Yiqun’s works are full of narrative arrangements. His manipulation of models, deliberate choices of settings and specific requirements of props are all footnotes to the storyline and complement the photographer’s world view. Together, they give his photos a cinematic visual effect. The portraits are expressioneless, and the lost facial details make it all the harder for the viewers to locate the model’s identities. They may well be the same woman, with a Lolita’s beautiful body and carefree outfits, shining quietly in a mundane environment. But the moment they turn around, every hope is shattered, just like in an absurd dream. Lolita is both an angel and devil. As an adult man attempts to redeem his soul through the body of an innocent girl, he is led to an even darker nightmare at the turn of her head.