Intended as a cultural space for both local residents and international academic researchers, the Lianzhou Museum of Photography will be the first institution of its kind in China.
In 2005, Lianzhou became the locus of an international photography festival. Located in the northern Guangdong Province (current population: 510,000), the city is the region’s centre of tourism. Over the past 12 years, the festival has become a reference for new trends in Chinese photography. Its 2017 edition theme was “Your Selfie Stick (and You).”
“The original intention was that, in addition to presenting photographs at the festival, we should make the archive available to photography researchers, because China did not have its own photography museums and it lacked the basic conditions for this kind of academic research,” stated Duan Yuting, founder and director of Lianzhou Foto Festival, in an official statement about starting a permanent institution.
The premises were designed by O-office Architects, a Guangzhou-based practice established in 2007. The architecture is comprised of two interlocking buildings. A roof garden and outdoor theatre link the museum’s respective old and new structures; the space between the buildings is open to the public. The architects used local materials unique to the area, including dark gravel, steel plates, light brick, and green tiles.
Three photographers will open the space: Zhuang Hui, a key figure in China’s New Photo movement based in Beijing, with the series “A Shadowless Place”; Scottish-born New York-based Albert Watson, known for celebrity portraits and magazine covers, with the series “The Two Faces of Janus”; and Zhang Hai’er, one of the pioneers of experimental Chinese photography, who lives and works between China and France, with the series “Bad Girls.”