Jimei X Arles International Photo Festival 2021 — Selections

We couldn’t find a better way to close 2021 than reviewing a branch of one of the most important photography festivals of the year, the collaboration between Jimei and Les Rencontres d’Arles.

The 7th Edition will be running until 3rd January 2022 in Xiamen, China. For those who didn’t hear about the festival before, it was founded in Xiamen’s Jimei District in 2015, and it is organized by Three Shadows Photography Art Centre and Tianxia Jimei Media. A selection of four exhibitions of this year’s Les Rencontres d’Arles make their appearance in Xiamen’s island for this occasion, alongside with special sections such as Greetings from Singapore, a yearly show that focuses on an Asian country’s photography scene. China Pulse, which partners with the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing to feature talents in Chinese photography. Or Crossover Photography, which explore the relation between photography and other media such as video, digital art or installation.

Among its numerous sections, we selected some of the exhibitions and artists that we definitely want to share with you.

Marie Tomanova. It was once my universe. Exhibition view. Courtesy of: Three Shadows Photography Art Centre
Marie Tomanova. ‘It was once my universe’. Exhibitions from Arles — Curated by Sonia Voss

As part of the Exhibitions from Arles, we would like to highlight Marie Tomanova’s project It was once my universe. The series are an autobiographical story about emigration. It was made during the artist’s first return from New York to the village that saw her grow, Mikulov. It represents a rediscovery of those well known landscapes, people and corners that weirdly became unfamiliar and disturbing. The realization that she does not belong to this context anymore, is the feeling that liaises the whole project and how she confronts the idealisation of home when things were difficult.

Marie Tomanova

It was once my universe

Ilanit Illouz. ‘Wadi Qelt, in the stony light’. Exhibitions from Arles — Curated by Sonia Voss

Wadi Qelt is a valley between Jerusalem and Jericho, near the Dead Sea. This area in the Judean Desert is where Ilanit Illouz based his experimental photographic study. Due to the drought of the lake, the artist decided to collect the salt from the desert floor and use it to fossilize her prints. The result is a photographic work that explores the sculptural nature of the mineral properties used in the process. For this exhibition, Ilanit presents a series of images that evoke landscapes made for meditation, but also that shows how our ecosystem slowly vanishes.

Ilanit Illouz

Wadi Qelt, In the Stony Light

Amiko Li. ‘Passaggio’. Jimei x Arles Discovery Award — Curated by Li Jia

Among all the great exhibitions and artists presented in the Discovery Award section we picked the solo show by Amiko Li, Passaggio, curated by Li Jia. The exhibition explores the relationship between photography and sound, questioning if we are able to hear an image. Sound cover the room in a really subtle way, sounds that act as murmurs, whistles, or breaths. Accompanied by projections and videos, Li’s body of work does not simply present the traditional picture-sound relationship, but also a viewing experience. The great curation by Li Jia allows the visitor to follow a transitional process between all the media that the artist uses, and makes us understand that each one of them simply exist as they are.

Amiko Li


The Natural History of an Island. ‘Greetings from Singapore’ — Curated by Gwen Lee and supported by DECK

One of the particularities of Jimei x Arles is the special section dedicated to an Asian country photography scene. Singapore is the one selected for this edition and in our opinion, it has been a great discovery. Curated by Gwen Lee and supported by DECK, The Natural History of an Island features works by 10 Singaporean artists who explore the historical and contemporary narratives of their country using photography, installation and film. Each artist works around the perception of nature and its relationship with human interventions in the island, and how it has shaped the connection between their inhabitants.

Artists featured:

Ang Song Nian, Chow and Lin, Geraldine Kang, John Clang, Kevin WY Lee, Marvin Tang, Robert Zhao Renhui, Syahrul Anuar and Woong Soak Teng

N-APE STUDIO. ‘The Infinite Party’. Local Action

We could consider The Infinite Party an anti-club party. The club scene normally is associated with freedom and wildness, but in fact there are a lot of non-written rules and boundaries. In some cases, photography is not allowed inside these nightclubs in order to preserve their purity. N-APE Studio hosts a party where installations, lights and music come together alongside numerous cameras that photograph the visitors in real-time. The collective describes it as an “abstraction machine”, which breaks with the academic definitions of a photography show, and questions the medium influences on people’s behaviours.


The Infinite Party

Tao Hui. ‘A Forensic Play. Act I: A never-ending search for connectivity’. Jimei X Arles Discovery Award — Curated by Miao Zijin

Tao Hui’s video-installations invite the viewers to face their own cultural history, their way of living and question their social identities. His work involves environment and audience, elements that play an essential role in the whole piece. The versatile nature of the image production allows Tao to provide the spectator multiple ways to engage with the work, in a physical and virtual sense. During these last years, Tao Hui has been exploring the design of social media and how their immersive and interactive character affects the users, generating emotions such as dependence, obsession or loneliness. In late 2020, he experimented a transition from video artist to video content creator, bringing the artistic practices to TikTok, a social platform with a strong visual language and narrative methods. Is it possible to mix these two ways of interacting with the viewers? How could this influence their emotions?

Tao Hui

A Forensic Play. Act I: A never-ending search for connectivity

Hope you enjoyed the article and if you want to discover more about emerging photography, you can find us on Instagram and on our website

Don’t miss anything from us!

Subscribe to our Monthly Newsletter

Text by:

Juan Blasco — Founder & Curator of Conceptual Projects



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Conceptual Projects

Conceptual Projects

Online platform supporting emerging photographers