11 June 2014

RongRong & Inri’s "Tsumari Story" at Mizuma Art Gallery

June 11 (Wed.) - July 12 (Sat.) 2014/ 11:00-19:00
closed on Sun. Mon. and Holidays

Opening this evening, Mizuma Art Gallery is presenting a solo exhibition of the Chinese-Japanese artistic team RongRong & Inri (荣荣和映里). 

RongRong (b. 1968) is a Chinese photographer from Fujian Province who made a name for himself in the 1990s for his portraits of life in the East Village of Beijing.  Inri (b. 1973), who is from Kanagawa, began her career as a portrait photographer for a Japanese newspaper before pursuing an independent career starting in 1997.  Since meeting in 2000, this husband and wife team have become known for their collaborations together. 

RongRong & Inri are based in Beijing but have exhibited their work together worldwide. In 2007, they established the Three Shadows Photography Art Centre in Beijing’s Caochangdi District - the first private art centre in China dedicated to photography. They continue to be at the centre of Beijing’s photographic art world.  For example, since 2010 they have been organizers of the Caochangdi PhotoSpring Festival in collaboration with Arles International Photography Festival in Southern France. In recent years they have also held numerous exhibitions in Japan: they held a solo show at Shiseido Gallery (2011), participated in the Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale (2012), and their works have also been acclaimed as part of last years ‘LOVE’ exhibition at the Mori Art Museum and in the collection exhibition of Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography.

This exhibition will revisit work shown in 2012 at Echigo-Tsumari, with the addition of new pieces created this year. In Tsumari Story they will use experimental forms of prints to exhibit their work. If one compares the location of Tsumari in Niigata Prefecture, adjacent to the Sea of Japan, this is a region markedly different to the Pacific Ocean side of the country. Perhaps because its transport network was comparatively late to upgrade, it has somewhat escaped the homogenization effected by globalization. Even today, the unique characteristics of its culture remain prominent. During its long winters, large volumes of white snow may totally cut off road access. There, time flows according to its own rhythm, allowing for the creation of unique stories.

It has been suggested that the origin of the name of this mountainous region of Niigata lies in the phrase “dontzumari” (meaning ‘dead end’, or ‘impasse’), which takes it beyond a place name to being an aspect of Japanese culture - or possibly a symbol for the whole of Japan, existing as a chain of islands surrounded by the sea. “It is only once you have escaped everything and you reach the final impasse, that you find the love you were searching for”: this artwork was created in a place in which such folklore as this remains.  As such, in today’s ever-shrinking world of increasing homogenization, perhaps this work bears the power to leave behind a unique and deep impression.

In the encounter of a man and woman and their children, RongRong & Inri’s photographs have at the centre of their creative process “the circle of life”.  Within their tales, perhaps we may feel a premonition of the future that is to come. In this age of growing awareness of the land on which we live, the Mizuma Art Gallery warmly invites you to view the exhibition of RongRong & Inri’s story.

This post is an edited version of a press release by Mizuma Art Gallery.  For more on Rong Rong & Inri see their profile on Art Speak China.

cmmhotes 2014