CONTEMPORARY CHINESE PHOTOGRAPHY BOOKS YOUNG ARTISTS
Based in Vancouver, independent publisher 88books specialises in hand-bound zines profiling the work of up-and-coming Chinese photographers. Founder Ho Tam released the first group of ten artists’ books in early 2012 and is working on a second series.
All of the artists’ books in the first series were conceived by photographers in China and then produced and distributed by 88books in Vancouver, Canada. Founder Ho Tam, a video artist and photographer himself, was inspired by the independent publishing and bookmaking scenes he found on a recent trip to Beijing. For the first series, Tam brought together a range of young and lesser-known photographers that reflect the diversity of creative practice in China today.
“As the country opens up, the artists are unravelling the influx of ideas and enjoying the openness in individual expression,” Tam says on the 88books website. “Without the burden of market concerns and enjoying the new found freedom, the younger generation often works against traditions and the mainstream, in search of their own language and personal take on art and life in China and beyond.”
Tam believes that zines, shorthand for small-circulation and often self-published books or magazines, offer the potential for a new creative outlet for artists in China. As Tam told Art Radar,
I think most people, including myself, are very curious about what the artists have to say, and [what they] can say through their self-initiated publications. Artists’ books definitely offer an alternative outlet for creative freedom, perhaps reaching a different audience who may not readily enter an art gallery.
Tam has been making books for over twenty years.
Despite its gradual acceptance into the mainstream, Tam believes photography is still relatively unknown compared to other media in the Chinese art world. He attributes this to the lack of a long tradition of photography within the country, as well as a general unfamiliarity with the medium beyond portraiture, landscape and documentary. In addition to his work with 88books, last year Tam published FRONT LINE, a book of Mandarin-language interviews with photographers based in Canada. Tam hoped to raise the level of discourse surrounding international contemporary photo-artists.
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- Photographic duo RongRong and inri get first Hong Kong retrospective – September 2011 – works that highlight the international couple’s collaborative efforts
- Photobook prices are soaring: Will monographs follow? – August 2011 – looking at photobooks as potential art investments for those on a budget
- Work of 3 Chinese artists gets first time MoMA showing in performance photography exhibit – curator interview – May 2011 – Art Radar talks with MoMA curator Eva Respini about Chinese photography
- 3 young Chinese artists awarded prizes at inaugural Caochangdi PhotoSpring – May 2010 – a report of this first Beijing photography festival, now in its third year
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