Visiting and Returning 到访与还乡

Visiting and Returning

Cuator : John Chang

Different cultural contexts about the same Subject Of the Photography

All photos exhibited here are the works containing the thick local custom of Chaozhou, a city in the east of Guangdong province. When you come to the front counter, you will find that all the 80 pieces are just like the wonderful flowers, fresh and vivid, which you will feel to find them suddenly when you wake up. Behind the screen, you will see a spectacular cooperation between the two famous photographers. They took the photos at the same time ( during the Chinese Spring Festival), in the same area (the Chaoshan district in Guangdong province), and for the same theme(the rich local folk-custom activity in Chaoyang district during the Chinese Spring Festival).

However, the presentations are quite different.

Hiroji Kubota, the famous photographer working with the Magnum photos, made up his mind to be a photographer after his graduation from the political dept. in Tokyo University, and went to America for 6 years in learning photography. He had studied in New York and Chicago. His dream came true after he completed all his study. In year after becoming a photographer, Hiroji Kubota joined the Magnum photos the 3rd and are honored to be it’s official employee. He started his career as a freelance in photography and began to provide special coverage to the western media. Obviously, Hiroji Kubota had completed his photography training under the western thinking context, though he received his early education in Japan. Besides, after nearly 40 years working in the western photography organization, his images of humanity for people from every parts of the world with different nationalities have been recognized by global main media. And by this he has built up his international view. His colleagues include the world renowned talented persons such as Henri Cartier- Bresson, Robert Capa, David Seymour, Marc Riboud etc.

Cai Huansong, the art supervisor for the , is a famous photographer from the Chaoshan area. In the very beginning of his photographic career, like most photographers in that horizon hazy age, he had also experienced a long time Sharon enlightenment. Fortunately, he was special with an aggressive heart and the ability of self examination. He was never satisfied with imitation and the inflexible management on his skillful ideas. Then he was inspired to think deeply on the photography ontological return., and finally he has got full confidence at the age of forty. For a man working years for Sharon photography and with full knowledge on theory of photographic history , he was no longer satisfied with the sweat flavor. Inevitably, he would go out and began to work on the research and record of the photography history, as well as on the practice of conceptual photography. This has symbolized that Cai huansong has built up his own photography frame. In the area of photography theory, he got his first research thesis published in 1985 named on the Chinese photography theory collection. Starting from then, many books on the photography edited under his leadership had been highly praised by people in this field. Therefore in the year of 2009, he got the Chinese Photography Awards. On the photographic practice, he has been paying th 8 attention to the traditional culture in his homeland. During a talk with Hiroji Kubota, Cai huansong’s photo named caught the latter’s eyes. In this way, these two photographers with quite different culture backgrounds got their first culture intersection and agreed to go to Chaoshan for taking photos during the Chinese Spring Festival in 2012. Therefore, we are able to see this exhibition today. If we put those photos on the Chaoshan folk-custom by Hiroji Kubota as his visiting to this area, those by Cai huansong mean without any doubt his homecoming. This tour going hand in hand was really a behavior of charm.

Based on their different culture backgrounds , different professional careers and different outlook of value, these two photographers will surely use different ways in the presentation of the same scene for the same theme psychologically and consciously., i.e. the different culture context. When we review their photos from the humanistic direction, we will find that they have combined their own culture immersion into the same theme on the Chaozhou traditional culture. However, it doesn’t mean convergence. Hiroji Kubota, who represents the western context, posses deep western humanistic quality. He was subtle, integrated with macro and micro, thanks to his study on western documentary photography system and aesthetic system. Our first impression on his photos would be about his attention paid to humans driven by the western concept of human respect. Therefore, his focus is always on humans. By revealing stories through people’s expressions, their manners, the moment of their actions , reviewers will be soon taken into the special scene. Another point is strange vision from the visitor (for example, the young girl in ancient custom wearing a pair of sunglasses). Being a visitor, Hiroji Kubota may be anxious of missing any scene about the local custom. Due to his being unfamiliar with the local custom, or because of his professional attitude, or because of the both, he has tried his best to record all aspects of the event. Therefore, in all of his photos, every scene is an all-direction vision made up by a set of complete images. There are also astonishing surprises about some details which would be often overlooked( the words on the incense sticks and the curling up smoke in the temple are seen but there is no prayer shown up. The prayers are ignored on purpose). In the same time, although he was far away from the objects that he was taking photos on, this is mainly for the respect to the subjects and non interfering principal, he was still able to use the zoom lens to cover the shortage and to make the vision enter directly into the scene, thus to build up a live feeling and show more clearly the details ( for example, on the puppet opera, his photos show not only the action scene but also the people who control the threads, signing and speaking). His fields of image are always go along with people’s fields of vision. It is this typical kind of affinity from the Magnum field of view that present a kind of reality to readers who have never been personally in the image fields.

Being the newly rouse Chinese generation as a photographer, Cai huansong has fixed love to the local custom of his homeland. His thinking was nourished by the mother culture. Here we can simply definite his image statement as Chaoshan local context according to his personal identity. Although he has been working and living in provincial capitals and also in Beijing , the Chinese political and economic center, he has been paying high attention to the local culture of his homeland by documentary photography. This is because that he has a pure heart and his love to the homeland. In his home field, he knew very well the local culture, it’s ceremony, it’s spectacle and his fellow villagers. This is his advantage, yet also his disadvantage, because on one hand, he can control easily the photo taking since he is very familiar with the subjects under shot, but on the other hand, he may have visual blind spot also due to the above reason. About this issue, unlike Hiroji Kubota who had to push himself to be familiar with the subject from a stranger, Cai huansong tried his best to get out of what he had been familiar with and made an acute activation to his vision and tactile sense. From the point of mental emotion, Cai huansong made his tour as a feeding to his homeland where he was brought up. Therefore, in the whole shooting process, he was able to control accurately every ritual shooting points. To a large extent, his watching vision is the same as that of his fellow villagers. He was able to join the performance made by the villagers thanks to his regional identity, his fluent local dialect. This is also proved by the shooting positions in many of his photos. Through the visual spatial scheduling such as by using the wide angle lens, low angle shooting, approach shooting etc., he showed his respect to the local traditional culture, and also endowed his all works with strong visual tension and emotional appeal.

In the whole procedure of this exhibition planning, we have tried to start from the individual analysis to the photographers and to have an academic study on all of their works. We have concluded that we can still find the different statements under the different culture context though we are facing the globalization. This will help us to explore the different results of image representation under the content of intercultural communication. Visitors may also take an active part in reviewing the photos through the bridge of image statement built up between the different contexts by the two photographers.


文:张 展


久保田博二,全球著名摄影机构玛格南摄影通讯社(Magnum Photos)著名摄影师。东京大学政治系毕业后立志要成为一名摄影师,遂远赴美国,用了六年时间先后辗转于纽约和芝加哥学习摄影。学成,愿望也随之达成,以自由摄影师的身份开展自己的职业生涯并开始为西方媒体拍摄专题报道。在当上摄影师的第三年久保田博二加入了玛格南,并在几近严苛的优胜劣汰机制中赢得了被接纳为玛格南正式成员的荣耀。显而易见,久保田博二虽然早期接受的教育在其本土,但他所接受的摄影专业训练则完全是在西方的思维语境下完成的,加之在他日后为玛格南图片社这一代表着西方主流摄影机构服务的四十多年的岁月里,面对世界各地区各民族的人文影像的陈述已然形成了一种得到全球主流媒体认可的国际视野。他的同僚有大家熟知的亨利·卡蒂埃·布列松(Henri Cartier-Bresson)、罗伯特·卡帕(Robert Capa)、大卫·西蒙(David Seymour)、马克·吕布(Marc Riboud )等世界翘楚。