Symposion ─ About Love 1996 ─ 2000

inriRong Rong

AKAAKAThree Shadows

This book takes what were originally four separate series produced over twenty years ago, bringing them together under a single theme ̶ love. In the period when I took these photographs, young people, blindly accepting the predictions of Nostradamus, were caught up in a sense of approaching apocalypse as an era came to an end. Crushed by the very real feeling that life held no hope, it seemed as if my only reason for living was to wait for the doom of humanity due to commence in July 1999. Then, at the age of twenty-three, discover- ing the dance company H Art Chaos and photographing its lead dancer Naoko Shirakawa catastrophically transformed my ideas on the value of photography as artistic expression. If photography were art, I realized, I would have to become the agent in the process, confidently asserting my own ideas and following my own sense of aesthetics. My photographs did not exist for someone else. I gained a painful awareness that it was me, and me alone, who was producing the photographs. I quit my job, but for a while I was unable to shoot people, and I was on the verge of losing my motivation for living. Then I found inspiration in friends who were experimenting freely as they attempted to find out what it was that they really wanted to do. That led me to the act of taking photographs, an act that eventually gave me the drive to live. The photographs I produced at that time now seem highly relevant to what people are going through today.

When I started out, love was not in my repertoire, and even in my dreams I would not have envisaged myself thinking of love as a theme for my photographs. My idea o'f love'is continually changing as I explore, going deeper and deeper into photography, and its inseparable presence within me leads to big struggles from time to time. I think in terms of"love=photography."Photogra- phy is my only method for learning about love, and love is the only idea from which photographs can emerge. In other words, love is the truth behind the photographs that I am seeking. And it was in the group of works presented here that I discovered the beginnings of that never-ending quest.

Extracted from the afterword inri "Symposion ── About Love"


Born in 1973 in Kanagawa prefecture, Japan.
In 1994, she graduated from Nippon Photography Institute and began working as a press photographer for Asahi Shinbun in Tokyo. In 1997, she became a freelance photographer and began independently creating work. In 2000, she began creatively collaborating with Chinese art photographer RongRong. In 2007, she and RongRong cofounded China's first nongovernmental contemporary photography art center, Three Shadows Photography Art Centre, in Beijing's Caochangdi district. In 2015, Three Shadows Xiamen Photography Art Centre opened in Xiamen, Fujian province. Dedicated to building and developing a platform to explore and promote Chinese contemporary photography, Three Shadows produces a variety of exhibitions and programs every year. Starting in 2009, she founded the "Three Shadows Photo Award" with the aim of discovering and supporting young photographers in China. That same year, she kicked off a number of international photography projects, including the first official partnership with Rencontres d'Arles to produce Beijing's first international photo festival, "Caochangdi PhotoSpring--Arles in Beijing" (2010-2012), followed by "Jimei x Arles International Photo Festival" (2015 onward). In 2016, she and RongRong were awarded the Sony World Photography Awards Outstanding Contribution to Photography prize, issued by the World Photography Organization.

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