Exceptionally “average”: Chinese photographer Wen Ling wins 2012 SH Contemporary prize

Wen Ling’s unique aesthetic of capturing day-to-day life, as well as his pioneering website, won him the 2012 Asia Pacific Photography Prize.

Chinese photographer Wen Ling has won the second Asia Pacific Photography Prize, an award given to a photographer represented at the 2012 edition of Shanghai art fair SH Contemporary. Wen is known for his images of everyday life and youth culture in China, as well as for a groundbreaking photoblog.

Wen Ling's photography, which is typically centred on youth culture and his day-to-day life.

Wen Ling's photography, which is typically centred on youth culture and his day-to-day life.

Originally trained as a printmaker, Wen Ling first began working in photography in 2001 after being exposed to Western photoblogs. Wen was curious about life in other countries but hit a wall due to his limited English skills. Photoblogs, however, provided a universally understandable look into the daily life of other nations.

Inspired by these sites, Wen decided to start his own photoblog, Ziboy.com, credited by many as the first photoblog in China. Wen was then hired as a photojournalist for the Jing Hua Times, and in 2003 he quit to focus full-time on his photography.

Since then, Wen reportedly never leaves his house without his camera, telling one journalist that in any given week he takes around five hundred photos. SH Contemporary lauded his unique, down-to-earth perspective, saying,

He [uses] snapshot style photography to capture the daily life of the people around him, street scenes, classmates and dinners, outdoor concerts, summer games – anything that cross[es] his path. Ziboy.com is a visual record of activities for local friends, and for an international audience the first glimpse of an ‘average’ lifestyle through the eyes of a native.

About the prize

Now in its second year, the Asia Pacific Photography Prize is awarded to a photographer represented at the fair. In 2012, the award came with a cash prize of RMB40,000 (USD6,300). According to the 2011 press release, the prize was established as part of SH Contemporary‘s mission to “amplify, empower and add value to contemporary artistic production and the growth of the internal and international market”. They identified photography as a medium widely used by young Asian artists with the potential to play a larger role in the contemporary art world in the future.

The 2012 judging panel was composed of artist Maurizio Anzeri, editor and publisher Erik Kessels, Chen Jiaojiao and Peng Yangjun, creative directors and editors of the Chinese art and design magazine Outlook, and critic and curator Francesco Zanot. It was chaired by curator Defne Ayas.


Related Topics: Chinese artists, art fairs, photography, art prizes

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