Opening - "Photography from the New China" @ Getty Center

Can I Cooperate with You?, Wang Qingsong, 2000
The Getty Center in Los Angeles is currently showing a great exhibition of photographs by contemporary Chinese artists (some of which it has acquired). These include works by Wang Qingsong, who creates large-scale staged photographs that explore the rapid changes occurring in China, inspired by material grounded in classical Chinese art as well as in Western art history. His photographs comment on such topics as rampant consumerism, migration, globalization, and the influence of the West on Chinese culture.

No. 1 (1), Beijing, Rong Rong, 2000

Rong Rong first documented the artists and the experimental performances they created while living in a neighborhood of Beijing known as the Beijing East Village. He later developed his own performances for the camera, producing a three-part body of work called Wedding Gown. Photographed in an abandoned village 40 miles from Beijing, the series uses the wedding dress as a metaphor for innocence and femininity. The hand-colored photographs evoke nostalgia for the past, while the figures enact a dreamlike narrative of death, cleansing, and potential rebirth. Rong Rong, the lone nude figure, moves through the site as if searching for something that cannot be found.

Family Tree, Zhang Huan

There is also one of Zhang Huan's most powerful works, Family Tree, which was created two years after he left China to live and work abroad, leaving behind potential persecution as well as family and friends. The artist had three Chinese calligraphers cover his face with poems, tales, and family names from his homeland, animating the traditionally silent portrait through language and performance. As the series progresses (see the complete series), the calligraphy saturates his face; the linguistic mask takes on a suffocating presence. Staged solely for the camera, the event was documented over the course of a day, the passage of time captured with the increasing layers of ink and the changing light