UP Gallery is proud to begin the 2020 year with Chen Ronghui’s solo exhibition: Freezing Land. This series that won the 10th Three Shadows Photography Award & ALPA prize has been featured in various platforms such as The British Journal of Photography, The New York Times and FT Magazine just to name a few. A monologue of this series will also be published by Jiazzhi which we will be showing the very first dummy at the gallery space accompanying the exhibition. Freezing Lands made its debut in 2019 PhotoLondon to the western art world and was highly received and praised. We are also pleased to be announcing to align with his solo at the gallery space the series will be presented simultaneously in ParisPhoto NYC in April and PhotoLondon in May.
“The northeast was the wealthiest area in China, bordering Russia and North Korea. With the help of the Former Soviet Union, it developed heavy industries and stayed prosperous for years. This land represented China’s communist roots and authoritarianism. But now, it has become the most recessionary land in China, with shrinking cities and declining population.”—Chen Ronghui
Freezing Lands created between 2016~2019 delves into the underlying social issues in China’s young individuals with methods not only documentary in nature but also demonstrating the power of social media and the communication modes of the younger generation in China. Each image is a storyline of an individual or an event related to the current dilemmas of the northeast region of China. With concise captioning, Chen relies on his works to illustrate the backdrop of the current conditions of the region. Under extreme climate environments of -30 ℃, encountering subjects by chance is deemed impossible. Hence, his works build strongly around the usage of the app “Kuaishou” where he creates a peculiar bond with the subjects. Chen actively seeks his subjects online, initiating conversations with them, and understanding their life struggles and mindset toward their futures.
Shot with an 8 x 10 large-format camera, the series gives off a plasticity quality. Requiring time to develop, which aligns with his three-year quest on exposing the stories in the northeast region of China. Comparing with the strong emphasis in the major media outlets on the boom of China’s economy and progression, Freezing Land reveals a side of the lost” Chinese Dream” that is almost unknown to the world.
“This made me realize that I’m not just photographing the lost “Chinese Dream” on this freezing northeastern land, but also the uncertainty we young people, as individuals, are facing under today’s collectivism in China.”— Chen Ronghui