SHI YANG KUN

Photographer and visual artist Shi Yang Kun has held exhibitions at various institutions. From the Shanghai Center of Photography to the Zhejiang Art Museum. His works have been featured in LensCulture, South China Morning Post and TIME. On top of that, several accolades and awards are on his name as well. Born in 1992 in the Henan province, Yang Kun explores the complexity and challenges of today's society in China. We sat down for an interview do delve into the mind of the artist.

SHI YANG KUN

Photographer and visual artist Shi Yang Kun has held exhibitions at various institutions. From the Shanghai Center of Photography to the Zhejiang Art Museum. His works have been featured in LensCulture, South China Morning Post and TIME. On top of that, several accolades and awards are on his name as well. Born in 1992 in the Henan province, Yang Kun explores the complexity and challenges of today's society in China. We sat down for an interview do delve into the mind of the artist.

An Interview With Photographer Shi Yang Kun

SHI YANG KUN

Photographer and visual artist Shi Yang Kun has held exhibitions at various institutions. From the Shanghai Center of Photography to the Zhejiang Art Museum. His works have been featured in LensCulture, South China Morning Post and TIME. On top of that, several accolades and awards are on his name as well. Born in 1992 in the Henan province, Yang Kun explores the complexity and challenges of today's society in China. We sat down for an interview do delve into the mind of the artist.

SHI YANG KUN

Photographer and visual artist Shi Yang Kun has held exhibitions at various institutions. From the Shanghai Center of Photography to the Zhejiang Art Museum. His works have been featured in LensCulture, South China Morning Post and TIME. On top of that, several accolades and awards are on his name as well. Born in 1992 in the Henan province, Yang Kun explores the complexity and challenges of today's society in China. We sat down for an interview do delve into the mind of the artist.

An Interview With Photographer Shi Yang Kun
First off, how are you doing? The pandemic has shaken the world to its core. Has it changed your views on photography or art in general at all, and if so, how?

Can’t complain. I just come back to work from the Chinese New Year holiday. 2020 was a tough year that changed everyone’s life obviously. But it is still early for me to see the change in my personal photography or art. The only thing I can certainly feel is that it brings a huge uncertainty for the future.

And has there been something that has had a significant impact on you lately?

Last week, I have pulled a wisdom tooth, and it really hurts. Now I understand people’s pain better.

I saw that you were in Wuhan during the first lockdown. Can you tell me why you went to Wuhan and what did you want to capture?

I work as a visual reporter for the media. At the end of March 2020, I received this assignment of reportage trip to Wuhan. As a photographer, my instinct tells me that I have to go. Honestly, I don’t really want to capture some historical news moments, I just want to go and experience what is happening there.

Your series “Retrotopia” is a series that seeks to tell the story of places that are radical and conservative, grand yet mundane, relics of China’s past, and ambiguous symbols of its often paradoxical present. Can you walk us through this series?

This project is about three villages that still undergoing a collective dream in China today. In the 1980s, after China launched the reform and opening-up policy, most of the country started to embrace capitalism or the “market socialism”. At the same time, these villages such as Nanjie, Huaxi, and Dazhai never fully de-collectivized. I’ve been always interested in the relationship between an individual person and the community, personal freedom, and a community’s certain feeling. I started to shoot this project since 2018 by using a middle format and a 4X5 large format camera. I visit many times a year to these villages and talk with local people before I took photographs. I was trying to pose an uncertain moment in these photographs.

Shi Yang Kun Photography
Shi Yang Kun Photography
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Which project has been your most challenging and why?

It might be the one named ‘I Can’t Afford My Body’: Portraits of China’s Abandoned Chemical Weapon Survivors in the winter of 2019. I am afraid to shoot vulnerable people and turn their photographs being exploitative on media. I wonder how to give dignity to them in front of my camera.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

Books, exhibitions, movies… Mostly during my shower time.

What is your fondest memory of your childhood and is that memory-related to any of your work?

I think a person’s growth is to look back at his childhood memory continuously. I feel every part of my memory could be related to a part of me today. My first long-term project “Solastalgia” is related to my childhood. For example, the hammock photograph is from one of my fondest memory when I was a kid.

In the creative industry, who have you always admired?

Jeff Wall, Philip-Lorca diCorcia, William Eggleston...

Looking back on your work, how would you say you’ve changed or evolved?

Change is evolution.

Shi Yang Kun Photography
Shi Yang Kun Photography
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We’ve got some rapid-fire questions. Just answer with whatever comes to mind first.

What is your favorite place to travel to and why?

Mars. It’s a one-way ticket.

What is the biggest compliment you’ve received and from whom?

“You have good taste.”  My Mexican friend - a taco maker.

What advice do you have for starting photographers?

Start to do a used camera eBay business.

What food can you not live without?

Chinese food.

And lastly, what do you consider your biggest achievement so far?

I can cook Chinese food plus a taco.

Shi Yang Kun Photography
Shi Yang Kun Photography
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