I have just arrived back home after a fantastic journey to China, all thanks to Photolucida!
In September I got an invitation from the Chinese curator Guo Jing, whom I met at Photolucida’s Reviews event in April, to exhibit some of my work at the 2019 Lishui Photo Festival in November as part of the exhibition Me and My Family. Short notice, but still doable and fun! So – I got my plane ticket organized and traveled for about 15 hours by plane before changing to fast train for a bit more – the 3 hours from Shanghai to Lishui. And just to be clear, this is a wonderful way to travel in China. Great people, great service and super-easy to figure out.
I arrived just in time to Lishui to participate in the opening ceremony of the festival and it resembled something like the Oscars perhaps. A little bit bizarre, a bit funny, but made with a good heart. And many, many, many speeches. Great fun! More than 5000 photographs were shown during these festival days, and I must admit it was impossible to see them all. There is simply not enough time and I would suggest they prolong the festival period for a few days at least. All the exhibitions were so beautiful and done in very different ways. Some in modern buildings, some in big museums, others in old traditional historic buildings – there was exceptional photographic work from all over the world. This festival is supposed to be the biggest in China, and it certainly seemed so. And, thankfully, the Festival provided tour arrangements for all international visiting photographers.
In addition to seeing a lot of great work, one of my favourite things about festivals is connecting with fellow artists, making new friends and also reconnecting with old ones. Also, the opportunity to see how work is presented and exhibited so far away from one’s home is a real inspiration. The Lishui Festival is doing a fantastic job in presenting photography in so many different venues: in museums, outdoor locations, building sites and historic villages outside the city. It really was so much fun to explore. I was lucky to have Lin Lin, a translator who could help guide me through the different places, since most of the local people and the Chinese photographers visiting the festival did not speak English. In many locations, there were no presentations of the exhibitions in English.
Still, everyone I met was just incredibly friendly, nice and kind and I felt deeply welcome wherever I went. A great reminder that we are all much more alike than we are different. Traveling makes us see this more clearly. I think I fell a little bit in love with China and the people during what feels like an extremely short time. I am so happy to have been part of this wonderful festival this year and very grateful for this experience. Travel is connecting with other cultures and people, and it is a brilliant reminder that we are mostly the same all over the planet. I will one day return to China.
PS: I have chosen not to mention politics from an international perspective. The Lishui Festival was for me a community of photographers gathering together, about connecting with people from around the world, and about the universal language of photography which we can all understand regardless of where our home is. – Anita Hamremoen
Lin Lin was my interpreter during my stay in Lishui. Now she is my friend. This selfie that she took is done the “Chinese” way. They all use filters for every photo they take. She told me no Chinese woman would share an image that was not showing us flawless. So here we are, completely fake, but beautiful.