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Photography festival puts spotlight on ancient city

( China Daily )

Updated: 2018-07-20

TAIYUAN - In September, the Pingyao International Photography Festival will celebrate its 18th anniversary in the ancient walled city of Pingyao in northern China.

Advocating diversity, internationalism and professionalism, the annual festival is considered an important stage for international photographers to display their talent.

Over the past 17 years, the festival has attracted 4.5 million visitors and exhibited over 220,000 works of 37,000 photographers from more than 100 countries and regions.

Cui Bo, 50, has attended a total of 15 festivals in Pingyao, over which time he grew from a photo editor into an acclaimed curator.

The festival is an excellent stage for photographers to open up to the world, Cui says.

"I am very grateful for the festival, both personally and professionally," he adds.

Wang Xiaojun opened her homestay on the first day of the second festival in 2002 when she gave birth to her daughter.

While taking care of her baby, she often spoke with foreigners at the festival.

Now, she not only speaks fluent English, but is a poet and an amateur photographer.

The ancient walled city of Pingyao was built in the 14th century, and was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997, as "an exceptionally well-preserved example of a traditional Han Chinese city".

The city boomed in the 19th century as China's financial center, as Shanxi merchants expanded their businesses across the country.

Now, the well-preserved compounds of these affluent merchants have made the town a unique site to hold exhibitions.

Song Linmao, a local resident, is devoted to protecting the residences of the Shanxi merchants. And he spent four years transforming three rundown compounds into a quaint guesthouse containing structures in the Ming and Qing styles.

"Famous French photographer Alain Jullien stayed here in the 1990s, and he told me to take good care of the local buildings," says Song.

While maintaining traditions and professionalism, the festival also pursues innovation and creation. This year's festival, which opens on Sept 19, will for the first time feature a multimedia exhibition of photographic works, according to Zhang Guotian, the festival's art director.

"We will transform an old diesel engine factory into a movie theater during the festival to give audiences a combined experience of video, sound and still pictures," says Zhang.

So far, this year's festival has received works from around 2,000 photographers from more than 30 countries and regions.

A highlight of the event will be an exhibition of works by Neal Slavin, an American photographer specializing in group portraits.

For his first exhibition in China, he will bring his magnum opus Neal Slavin: Group and Gatherings to the festival.

Xinhua

Photography festival puts spotlight on ancient city

(China Daily 07/20/2018 page18)

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