Xishuangbanna Festival 2012
Le cadre délirant du FEstival: une "fausse" architecture thaïe sous les tropiques chinoise
L'étonnant travail de Stefan Schacher " 31 days ways minds"
Femmes daïs se passionant pour les photos de Patrick Blanche sur le saphir
Patrick Zachmann devant le panneau de son exposition
Conférence de Floris de Bonneville sur le passé et le devenir du photojournalisme
The Xishuangbanna Photography Festival was held this year on the far side of China, south of Yunnan, along the banks of the Mekong River. This year’s theme was rivers.
I was the head of the jury, which awarded a photo series by Suthep Kritsanavarin on fishermen in the Mekong rapids. The jury was unanimous in their selection of this spectacular work. Among the guests invited to the festival, Yann Layma and Patrick Zachmann each presented an exhibition, the former on terraced rice fields in China, the latter on advertisements promising new building sites in Chinese cities. Christophe Loviny, the director of the new Rangoon Photo Festival, was on hand to sign an exchange agreement between the two festivals.
Xishuangbanna is a place rarely visited by tourists, and that’s a shame. The city resembles Thailand, from its architecture and its citizens, the Dai, to its tropical wildlife. While it was freezing in Beijing, here it was hot and sunny.
It was in this picturesque setting, on the banks of the Mekong river, that the festival was held for the second year in a row. The exhibitions hall was the gigantic basement of a recently completed Thai temple and a few other villas of this riverside urban complex.
Thousands of visitors, many dressed in traditional Dai clothing, came to see these 110 exhibitions. Most were done by Chinese artists, but several Vietnamese photographers also showed their work, including Hoang The Nhiem, who has a highly personal vision of his country. I loved Lei Weijun’s sepia-toned series on miners. The printing process he used softened the colors.
The Chinese jury and I didn’t always agree. The Chinese photographer Xiao Xuan An, who was awarded the prize reserved for Chinese artists, produced a beautiful work on a cave containing masterpieces of Buddhist art, which was filled with water following the construction of the Three Gorges Dam. He spent several years showing how the water level slowly flooded the Buddhas, even though the cave was 75 meters away from the water source.
I was also struck by a work by Xu Jin Yan on the Tibetan salt harvested in the Mekong valley by farmers who converted to Catholicism in the 19th century. Caravans of mules exported the salt to Yunnan and Lhassa.
A number of Chinese photographers will emerge from this unassuming festival, which would like to establish itself in the years ahead as a modest Pingyao of the tropics. The artistic director of the Pingyao festival was a member of the jury.
Three other French artists exhibited at Xishuangbana: Daniel Riffet, Patrick Blanche and Serge Giraud. Their works are distributed by thereportage.com
Floris de Bonneville