Edward Burtynsky – Manufacturing #17, Deda Chicken Processing Plant, Dehui City, Jilin Province, China, 2005
For Edward Burtynsky, photography is much more than immortalizing a scene; while his focus is on taking photos, he is keen on sharing his point of view with the rest of the world. One of the most outstanding aspects of his works is his ability to connect to the real world. China for instance is a massive country, comprised of 3.7-million-square-miles of manufacturing landscape and that means people are busy all the time. What is a picture of China without a hint of humanity? The many pictures Burtynsky has taken of China appear to be carefully thought out; each one makes use of a location that not only captures what is happening on a large-scale, but also the people who make it happen.
Alan Delorme – Totem #4
French artist Alan Delorme’s Totem series features images of towering stacks of objects that appear to teeter perilously like totem poles. His project name is ambiguous because it almost indicates that the project is about the dazzling heights of the Shanghai skyscrapers. owever, the entire project focuses on migrants attempting and struggling to ferry their towering wares and cargo across various parts of the megacity.
The migrants in the pictures that often go unnoticed by many are seen to transport unbelievable piles of goods on their bikes. Delorme utilized the precarious products that consist of cardboards, chairs, bales of clothes, and tires just to mention a few, to represent the new totems of society.
Zhang Huan – Sydney Buddha, left: Aluminium Buddha, 370x290x260cm, right: Ash Buddha, 350x480x290cm, Carriageworks, Sydney, Australia, 2015
Zhang Huan, born in 1965, started out his career as a painter and then moved to performance art and then resorted back to painting. He is also a sculptor and photographer, but his main focus is being a performance artist. Throughout his career, he has made extensive use of ash, and even built a few sculptures with it. Zhang says that he considers ash to be symbolic as it represents the hopes and the prayers of those who usually burn the incense. To him, the ash sculptures represent collective blessing, memory, and soul of the Chinese people. The ash is collected from various temples in Shanghai, a time-consuming process that involves many hands.
Meekyoung Shin – Crouching Aphrodite, 2002
Meekyoung Shin, a South Korean sculptor, became popular for her Translation series, using soap as her medium of art. Trained in the tradition of European sculpture, her statuettes are made factoring in the Western and Eastern style of relief. Her works are usually made from palm oil, a vegetarian soap.
Berndnaut Smilde – ICONOCLOUDS, 2013, Commission for Harpers Bazaar, Karl Lagerfeld
Photo: Simon Procter
Ai Weiwei – Study of Perspective, Tiananmen, 1995-2010, C-Print, 32,5×43,5cm
Ai Weiwei is a Chinese artist and activist whose activism comes out in his artwork. He has been vocal and openly critical of the Chinese government’s stance on democracy and human rights. His work has captured global attention and served to bring attention to social injustices, human rights violations, and systemic violence.
Yang Fudong – Fifth Night Part 1, 2010, 7 channel video installation, 35 mm film B & W, stereo sound, 35mm
China’s most well-known cinematographer and photographer, Yang Fudong, was born in Beijing, China, in 1971. He is also regarded by many as one of the greatest film writers to come out of China, however his creativity spans far beyond that. Yang began training in painting at the China Academy of Fine Arts in Hangzhou, and started working with film in the early 1990s. He now uses images to depict thought and experience, and he seeks to portray that anything is possible, including dreams and fantasies.