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Wang Qingsong: The Glorious Life in China Where Dissonance Lingers Along

Beijing, China


China has changed. The long march of economic development to realize the ideal Chinese world has resulted in the dazzling achievement of super-speed growth. China’s dramatic economic transformation can be likened to the advent of a whole new world: “The Glorious Life”. This miracle is likely to have been positively euphoric for the Chinese people. However, there is no flawless utopia on earth, and China also has to pay a price for its glory. As construction sites take over myriad corners of the continent, livelihoods become plagued by pollution and the people roam like vagabonds to find jobs amidst the urban jungle of skyscrapers. Wang Qingsong exposes the true nature of China’s ‘glorious life’ to the world, transferring the countless dissonances that he has witnessed into motifs in his works.

Wang Qingsong is an indispensable figure in the discourse of contemporary photography in China. His works conceptualizes the chaos of values denoted by ‘the glorious life’ in a hilarious yet cheerful, critical yet artistic manner. The works enrich and expand the concepts of Chinese contemporary photography through novel approaches and cultural significance. Qingsong was born in Northeast China in the 1960s. He began as an oil painter but believed that photography, which was recognized as a legitimate new media, was the most precise medium for creatively documenting moments of turbulence in the ambiguous ‘glorious life’ that he had experienced. Qingsong develops and edits the massive photos that seem like scenes from plays and movies, to alternate reality and demonstrate a sense of intricacy in capturing the details of images. Therefore he achieves a comprised, constructed reality, which enables the viewer to understand and experience the society and humanity in his photographs on a larger level.

Wang Qingsong lingered long in the periphery of the stable boundaries that society had set, and this is why his portrayals of the other side of the ‘glorious life’ exude shades of intense mockery.

“Photographers need to learn anything beyond photography, to know about the society. Only through knowing more about this society, your photography can bear some warmth of humanity. (…) Most importantly, don’t go ahead to take photos without thoughts and purposes. In particular, at this epoch of digital media, one must cherish each opportunity to click the shutter.” 

  Lu Hong,
Constructed Images: The Art Odyssey of Wang Qingsong,

The selected works will aid an in-depth understanding of his photographic context. The exhibition is designed for viewers to witness the reality of Chinese society that Wang has consistently delivered to us throughout his career, alongside his artistic perspective and the status quo of contemporary photography in China.

Edited by Nikolaj Ahlefeldt Andersen