Nature: A Subjective Place, 08 Sep 2016 — 11 Nov 2016

Nature: A Subjective Place

Shanghai Center of Photography – SCôP, No. 2555-1 Long Teng Avenue

In autumn 2015, SCoP’s featured exhibition explored the human subject as a “figure of speech”. This autumn, it is the turn of nature as, through photographs, SCoP explores pictorial ways of representing, structuring and symbolizing nature, be that as physical or metaphorical figure of speech, or simply as elemental landscapes. SCoP takes you on a trip into the natural world accompanied by the visions of the great 20th century American photographer Harry Callahan, and twenty-first century photography artists Lin Ran, Ni Youyu, Luo Yongjin, Shi Guowei, Shen Xuezhe and Wu Shankun from China.

The idea of “nature”, as a concept and value system, is a constructed one. Through several thousand years of human time, nature has been god, spirit, market garden and scientific study; a source of nurture, danger, succor, solace and provisions. We have harnessed its bounties, shaped its contours and manipulated its productivity. We brought it close, made it approachable and transparent, and simultaneously divested it of its mystique so that we no longer see it as it is. In most pictures the elements that once inspired awe are sanitized by their distance from reality and speak only of a romantic, spiritual ideal. As a result, today we face a multitude of problems, embodied in global warming and genetic manipulation.

But in taking nature as a subject, this exhibition looks at our romantic love of the natural world, the nostalgia that the beauty and power of the land inspires, and its function as bedrock and barometer of human society. The selection of works brought together here speaks most directly to those of us who look at landscapes with a quiet sigh of awe, who feel uplifted at the sight of trees rustling in a breeze or the weight of a magnificent bough illuminated against the skyline, a dense carpet of foliage that rolls away into the distance to land at the foot of a stoic mountain face or the flow of water past a river bank.

Seeing is a learned skill. It requires a process. In order for anything to be appreciated or seen, it had first to be framed and presented. In the manner that, as Diane Arbus once claimed “There were things no one else could see unless I photographed them.” What we hope to demonstrate here is how when real nature collides with the precision and clarity of an artist’s vision, when photography engages with human experience, photographs have the power to astonish visually, emotionally and intellectually, and foster greater awareness of the role we play in shaping the natural world.

“Nature: A Subjective Place” presents over 70 extraordinarily accomplished photographic works created using a host of styles and techniques, traditions and approaches. From the unusual and innovative works of Harry Callahan (1912-99) seen here in rare examples dating from the early 1940s to the mid-1970s, a new and large-scale projects from Luo Yongjin and Wu Shankun; a series of elegant assemblages from artist Ni Youyu; magnificent portraits of landscapes from Shen Xuezhe and Lin Ran; and a group of exquisitely crafted color compositions from Shi Guowei.

Contacts & Details
tue, wed, thu, fri, sat, sun 10:30 am – 5:30 pm


T: +86 21 6428 9516

Shanghai Center of Photography – SCôP, No. 2555-1 Long Teng Avenue

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