Geography: Documents and Works by RongRong&inri
Organizer: Three Shadows +3 Gallery
Exhibition Dates: October 17 to December 6, 2015
Address: No. 155A Caochangdi, Chaoyang District, Beijing
Three Shadows +3 Gallery is pleased to announce the opening of “Geography: Documents and Works by RongRong&inri” on October 17, 2015. This exhibition will feature RongRong&inri’s Liulitun, Three Shadows, and Caochangdi series and related publications. This is the first exhibition of RongRong&inri’s work at +3 Gallery.
RongRong&inri first lived together in Liulitun. In this very short, almost utopian, period, they focused entirely on photography. In 2002, when the city of Beijing was expanding, buildings all over town were being demolished and rebuilt. RongRong&inri lost their home and were forced to leave. When their courtyard was turned into a pile of rubble, RongRong&inri held a funeral for their home; they were the only ones in attendance, presenting white lilies. They said goodbye to their Liulitun period, which began with RongRong’s Ruins series and ended with the demolition of their first home. In Liulitun, RongRong&inri chose not to objectively photograph the perpetually changing urban landscape. Instead, they focused on their own lives and their relationships to these changes; this became the foundation for their lives today.
With the disappearance of Liulitun, RongRong&inri left a place that could never be recovered. After they moved to Caochangdi, they produced a series of youthful, beautiful works, embarking upon a new stage in their development. As if echoing the massive changes in society, RongRong&inri’s lives were dramatically transformed from 2004 to 2012. They had three children during this time, and the series Caochangdi was born of these changes. Caochangdi takes on the form of a family portrait; by perpetuating the most primal goal of photography, these pictures record their real, ordinary lives. RongRong&inri found the act of gathering the entire family together in front of the house to take the picture much more important than the image itself.
Not long after they moved to Caochangdi, RongRong&inri’s first child was born and they decided to build Three Shadows. The new life of Three Shadows was like the life growing inside the womb, inspiring feelings of mystery and wonder. Their internal and external worlds ran in parallel, moving in a cycle of destruction and construction; it was a living artwork. Three Shadows records the process of demolition, construction, and completion, and reflects RongRong&inri’s pursuit of new possibilities in photography. Then, as now, China did not have a space that functioned as a photography museum. In this environment, Three Shadows grew into a widely acclaimed art space for independent photography activities. For RongRong&inri, this photography art center was an immense challenge.
In “From Six Mile Village to Three Shadows,” art historian Wu Hung noted three themes: artwork, artist, and the city. In these works, they unearthed and explored the most interesting phenomena, which are the foundation for understanding any art or artist. They record and recover the environment in which they lived and worked. The show placed these works and these artists within the larger framework of contemporary Chinese urban, social, and cultural spaces. In looking at RongRong&inri’s work from the perspective of these three themes, we can better understand the artistry and the lived experience contained within each photograph; we also come to know the fate of this city, and the intimacy and struggles between the city and its inhabitants.
RongRong was born in Zhangzhou, Fujian Province, China, and inri was born in Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan. They met in Tokyo and were married in Beijing. They began working together in 2000, creating series from Mount Fuji, Austria, Yulong Snowy Mountain, Jiayu Pass, Great Wall, and We are Here, Beijing to Liulitun, Three Shadows, and Caochangdi. Their most recent work, was Tsumari Story, created from 2012 to 2014 in the Japanese town of Tsumari in Niigata, Japan. In their work, RongRong&inri explore the theme of the circle of life, and “Geography” presents the trajectory of their lives and works.