Sino-Japanese photographer duo RongRong & inri launched their Beijing-based joint practice in 2000, and since then have continued to take photographs grounded in everyday life, focusing on subjects such as their growing family, the changing Chinese landscape, and destruction of the environment.
In 2007 RongRong & inri used their own funds to establish the “Three Shadows Photography Art Centre,” a complex dedicated for photography on a large site in Beijing’s Caochangdi arts district. Designed by artist Ai Weiwei, an early supporter of the pair’s career, the building was a revolutionary structure equipped with a gallery, dark room, library and artist-in-residence facility. In 2009 RongRong & inri launched the “Three Shadows Photography Award.” The aim of the award is to identify and cultivate up-and-coming Chinese photographers, and it has indeed proved a stepping-stone to success for photographers with their sights set on an international career. Three Shadows has embarked on a range of ventures from exhibitions to lectures and workshops, based on its network of photographers and critics around the world and including an international photography festival (2010- ) run jointly with the 40-year-old Rencontres d’Arles photography festival in Arles, France, and an exhibition of works from the “Three Shadows Photography Award” at the Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale in Niigata (2015). In 2015, Three Shadows opened another branch site in the city of Xiamen in Fujian Province, thus extending its activities even further.
This exhibition looks back on ten years of Three Shadow's efforts to promote the photographic arts in China. With input from art historian Wu Hung, it will also make some observations on the role of Three Shadows in the history of Chinese contemporary photography. In addition to books, magazines and photographs, the exhibition also features video footage of interviews with critics, artists and staff who have witnessed first-hand the growth of Three Shadows.
The name “Three Shadows” has its origins in the words of Laozi: “Dao begets one; One begets two; Two begets three; Three begets all things.” The exhibition will present this unique center for photography created in the hope of becoming a place where photography (the “shadows”) in turn begets infinite possibilities.