Friday, 10 June 2016

Art promise being fulfilled in Myanmar

John B Turner: Nathalie Johnson at the 2012 PIP Pingyao

I had the pleasure of meeting Nathalie Johnson at the 2012 Pingyao International Photography Festival where she curated a show of four Myanmar photographers. I knew nothing of photography in Myanmar (formerly Burma) but knew that the country was then run by a military dictatorship. She told me she was off to Myanmar to work with and help their local artists to show and promote their work. These things take time but I have just heard via LinkedIn that she has now managed to establish an art centre, Myanm/art, in their largest city, Yangon (formerly Rangoon), in the south-east. It is located at 98 Bogalay Zay Street, 3rd Floor, Botataung Township, Yangon, Myanmar. Contact: nathalie.johnston@gmail.com

Myanm/art includes a gallery, reading room, and exhibition space, and represents
artists from all over Myanmar, both young and emerging, and work to raise 
awareness of their ongoing creative projects, both locally and internationally.

Nathalie writes: 'Our experience in Myanmar over the past six years tells us one thing – there is a hell of a lot of talent, underexposed and undervalued – here in Myanmar. With all the rapid change, artists are working hard to contribute to a country in transition. We want to help these artists build their reputations, gain exposure abroad, and have access to an updated library of archival and contemporary resources. So we combined a reading room with hundreds of books and resources, adjoined to an exhibition space free to use for artists. We also work with a selection of artists we believe to be paving the way for future generations of artists, not only in this country, but all over Asia and the world.'

'Myanm/art was originally founded as a platform to aid and contribute to the growing archive of contemporary arts in Myanmar and therefore, the larger map of Southeast Asia. It existed as an exercise of scholarship and archive, of review and editorials. One of the results of the work of Myanmart was MARCA – Myanmar Art Resource Center and Archive, an online and physical resource serving the artistic and creative community in Yangon, with pop-ups in Mandalay and Taungyi. MARCA was part of the Mobile Library program orginially founded by Asia Art Archive, and was the 3rd country host ever to have over 400 books on contemporary Asian art.'


Saturday, 16 April 2016

Paul Caponigro in Beijing





I had the pleasure of meeting Paul Caponigro and his helper, photographer Charles J Dukes, at the National Art Museum of China, in Beijing, after the opening of Caponigro's show yesterday (Friday 15 April). The big retrospective of around 150 prints was curated by Zhu Jiong, a photography professor at the Beijing Film Academy's Photographic Institute. She also organised a seminar attended by over 300 and did an extended video interview with Caponigro, who is now 84.

It is a fine show, particularly strong on early work, as one would expect for a debut show in China, and it demands several visits to contemplate and more fully enjoy the exquisite poetry of his vision expressed in beautiful prints. He was one of my early influences in the late 1960s, so it was a big disappointment when Paul, due to a medical problem, had to cancel the Auckland workshop I was planning for him as part of his intended visit to New Zealand initiated by the Photographic Society of NZ 30 years ago. Interestingly, his photographer son, John Paul Caponigro, is currently visiting New Zealand.

There were more than 300 people at the 2.30pm opening, and also at the 4pm lecture, so there was a huge rush to get from one to the other. Caponigro is an experienced teacher, but the translation process, as it usually does, combined with uneven microphone use and wide ranging questions tended to break the flow of the seminar discussion, which he good humoredly endeavoured to focus on his images and philosophy.

The unfortunate notion that Paul Caponigro is "the last of the 'Straight Photographers" took hold with quite a few in the audience. It was based on one sentence in the introduction to the exhibition attributed to Li Zhenxi: 'Caponigro is the only remaining world-class master of Pure Photography, the last of his generation of great photographers whose works are recognized and admired worldwide.'  

It is true that there are few photographers born in the 1930s who are still living, and have similar credentials and are as well-known as Caponigro (especially in the English-speaking world). He knew and learned from his association with the likes of Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, and Minor White. But that is patently not the same as being the last of a dying breed of photographers around the world who still use view cameras, analog film, and print with a minimum of handiwork.

Among the eldest and probably best-known others could be Robert Adams, born in 1937, and George Tice, born a year later. (Caponigro was born in 1932.) Slightly younger photographers of note who might also be considered to follow in the "straight" or "pure" photographic tradition represented by Caponigro, include Michael A Smith (b.1942), William Clift, and Linda Connor (b.1944) and Hiroshi Sujimoto (b.1948),  Most countries would have their adherents to this tradition, I suspect, but yes, they are not as well known, internationally, and never met Edward Weston, Ansel Adams or Minor White.

It is, perhaps, a Chinese characteristic to want to place major artists in the "Old Master" category as a sign of respect, but such hierarchical veneration, like the naive adoration of famous figures, or brand recognition, does little to help people understand the art. That requires time to look and analyse.

With the exhibition on for only two weeks, until midday 27 April and the museum only open 9am to 5pm daily (closed Mondays), there is no way to maximise the audience for this outstanding exhibition. It is equally unlikely that this Chinese museum will actually acquire any of his prints so they can be studied at leisure by those who now have some idea of who he is and what Paul Caponigro has done in photography - and not just as the last of a breed who played the piano at his exhibition opening.


Paul Caponigro speaks to an audience of around 300 at the opening of his exhibition,  'Meditations in black and white. China National Art Museum, Dongsi, Beijing (JBT©20160415009) 


Installation view of Paul Caponigro's 'Meditations in black and white', National Art Museum of China, Beijing. (JBT©20160415037) 

Installation view of Paul Caponigro's 'Meditations in black and white', National Art Museum of China, Beijing. (JBT©20160415053)

Around 300 people, including a large contingent of university students, crowded the lecture theatre for Paul Caponigro's talk at the National Art Museum of China, Beijing. Curator Zhu Jiong is standing front right. (JBT©20160415057)

Installation view of Paul Caponigro's 'Meditations in black and white', National Art Museum of China, Beijing. (JBT©20160415031)



video
        Paul Caponigro's 'Meditations in black and white', National Art Museum of China, Beijing.




 'Paul Caponigro: Meditations in black and white' exhibition, National Art Museum of China, Beijing.

Video interview of Paul Caponigro by Zhu Jiong presented in 'Meditations in black and white' exhibition, National Art Museum of China, Beijing. (Detail  JBT©20160415038)



Photographs by Paul Caponigro
Please note that this sampling does not represent the full range of subject matter in the exhibition, but just a few of my favourites. Caponigro's work is well represented on the internet, even in China.
Paul Caponigro ©: Rock Wall, West Hartford Connecticut, 1959

Paul Caponigro ©: Dutch Pipe Leaves, 1963


Paul Caponigro ©: Galaxy Apple, New York City, 1964


Paul Caponigro ©: Pear 1964


Paul Caponigro ©: Andara Dolmen County Donegal, Ireland 1964


Paul Caponigro ©: Running White Deer, 1967

Paul Caponigro ©: Yosemite Falls, Yosemite National Park, California, 1974



Paul Caponigro ©: Olive Tree, Cortona, Italy 1989





Monday, 11 April 2016

'Immeasurable' the 8th Three Shadows Photography Award Exhibition, 2016


Opening of  'Immeasurable', the 8th Three Shadows Photography Award
 Exhibition, 9 April 2016 (JBT©20160409073)

'Immeasurable', the 8th Three Shadows Photography Award Exhibition opened on 9 April at the Three Shadows Photography Art Centre in Caochangdi, Beijing, and will continue until 3 June 2016.


It's an impressive show, as usual, and presented to a high level under curator Chen Shen, it deserves to be widely seen. Internationally, not just throughout China, because it is hard to imagine seeing a better range of work to reflect what is happening in Chinese photography today. Or, to be more precise, to reflect what Chinese photographers are doing in and out of China, because several of the exhibitors actually live outside mainland China.

The winner of the 2016 Shisheido Prize, Yan Wang Preston, for example, has worked and studied in England since 2005. Her striking 'Mother River' (the Yangtse) project is being realised as a PhD project at Plymouth University in south west England. Nine of the 25 finalists have studied outside of China (France, Germany, the UK and US.) Another studied and lives in Taipei, and one lives in the U.S.

Only 25 artists were chosen from 271 candidates, so the standard of work is very high and richly diverse. The work of many of the candidates who missed out must have also been of a high quality, so the judges, "after intense deliberation" certainly had their work cut out. 

The 2016 Award finalists were Chen Wenjun & Jiang Yanmei, Dong Yuxiang, Gao Lei, Gao Yutao, Guo Guozhu, Guo Yilin, Huang Yang, Huang Zhenqiang (Dennis Wong), Huang Zhenwei, Huang Zhenqiang, Jiang Sheng & Xu Xiaodong & Xie Shaojie, Leong Chong Lao, Lam Pok Yin Jeff & Chong Ng, Liu Shuwei, Luo Zhizhong, Pu Yun, Qian Ruya, Wang Jiping, Wang Lei, Wang Yan [Preston], Xin Hong’an, Yang Wenbin, Ying Chaoxu, Zeng Rui, Zhi Leiying, Zhu Liyue.

This year, the international jury consisted of Quentin Bajac, Chief Curator of Photography, the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Satoshi Machiguchi, Director and Designer of MATCH, Tokyo;  RongRong, Founder and Director of Three Shadows Photography Art Centre, Beijing; Philip Tinari, Director of the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA), Beijing; and Wu Hung, Professor, and Director of the Center for the Art of East Asia, University of Chicago, Illinois.

Their chosen 2016 Three Shadows Photography Award winners, Lam Pok Yin Jeff & Chong Ng (aka Lin Boyan & Huang Chengcong) - shared what is considered China's premier photography prize of RMB 80,000 (around US $12,300), for their series, 'The Untimely Apparatus of Two Amateur Photographers'. And the 2016 Shisheido Photographer Prize awarded to Yan Wang Preston for her 'Mother River' series was RMB 20,000 (just over US $3000).

Immeasurable. The 2016 Three Shadows Photography Award Exhibition book is a handsome and useful book available for RMB 78 (about $US12.00). At 180 pages, in their 20x20cm series format, it illustrates roughly half of the works in the exhibiton. It includes impressions by Philip Tinari and Satoshi Machiguchi, from the all-male jury, as well as an introduction. These, as are the brief biographies and statements of intention, along with the juror's biographies, are all in English as well as Chinese. Which is another compelling reason why their exhibitions and books should be toured. 


Contact detailsThree Shadows Photography Art Centre, Caochangdi 155A, Chaoyang District, Beijing 100015, P.R. China. Email: info@threeshadows.cn








 Three Shadows 8th Photography Award Exhibition prize giving (JBT©20160409067)

Lineup left to right: Chen Shen, curator and MC, AWARD WINNERS, Satoshi Machiguchi, Wu Hung, Quentin Bajac, Philip Tinari, RongRong, and inri (JBT©20160409067 - detail)



2016 Shisheido Photographer Prize winner, Yan Wang Preston discusses her work for her 'Mother River' (Yangtze) project. (JBT©20160409190) 


Viewers of work by Lam Pok Yin & Chong Ng, the winners of  the Three Shadows 8th Photography Award Exhibition. Detail (JBT©20160409069)


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International Jury Talk Series
A series of 40-minute talks preceded the 3pm opening of the Award exhibition. The talks took place in the 3+ Gallery, with over 100 people in attendance, surrounded by RongRong and Inri's large prints relating to the construction of Three Shadows art centre. 


Chen Shen introducing Keiko Toyoda, Shiseido, at Three Shadows international jury talk (JBT©20160409017 )
Keiko Toyoda, Curator of Japan's Shiseido's Corporate Culture Department illustrated her company's longstanding involvement in promoting the arts. They started an art gallery along with the cosmetics empire in Tokyo in 1928. Shiseido, she said, considers making cosmetics as an art, and she showed a slide of their founding director with his camera. They have presented photography from numerous countries and see the promotion of art as part of the "virtuous cycle" that is an essental aspect of their company's culture, she said.



Chen Shen introducing Quentin Bajac, MoMA, Three Shadows international jury talk,Beijing_detail (JBT©20160409021)
Quentin Bajac, Chief Curator of Photography at MoMA in New York, spoke about photography at the Museum today, briefly touching on its history since 1937, and showing an impression of the distictly phallic building extension planned for 2020. He showed images of different exhibition designs, mentioning the increase in multi-media presentations, and the Museum's broadening international collecting and exhibiting policy. Sculpure is often being included with the photograph displays, along with film and video, he indicated. And Chinese photography was not being ignored.



Satoshi Machiguchi, designer. Three Shadows international jury talk _JBT©20160409027)

Bajac was followed by Satoshi Machiguchi, Art Director and Designer of MATCH and Company, Tokyo. An outstanding designer, judged by the books he has done for Three Shadows, he spoke, without illustrations, in Japanese, which was translated into Chinese but not English. I enjoyed watching his flamboyant figure but don't know what he said, or how many in the growing audience found it relevant to their interests?



Wu Hung, University of Chicago, Three Shadows International Jury talk_detail (JBT©20160409029) 
The final speaker, Professor Wu Hung, from the University of Chicago is an authority on the history of photography in China who I particularly wanted to hear. He is an animated speaker, but did not speak in English, His bilingual digital slides, however, were well annotated, so it was not so difficult to follow his main argument about how the inscriptions in early Chinese portraits added vital ingredient of subjectivity, which with commissioned portraits, made the images near self-portraits even though the sitter was not the actual photographer. His argument centred on significant portraits of  Wang Yi'an who arranged to have himself photographed before and after to commemorate the cutting of his queue (pigtail) in 1912 to signify the toppling of the Qing Dynasty and foundation of modern China. And he compared the use of mirrors to show front and back views (not that uncommon) with "similar" images by Lady Harwarden, and Erb Bunnag whose work I did not know. 



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More images of the Three Shadows 2016 Award Exhibition 'Immeasurable' and opening events

A glimpse of a recent show at New York's Museum of Modern Art, given by Quentin Bajac, their Chief Photography Curator, Three Shadows international jury talk, 9 April 2016 detail (JBT©20160409022)


Wu Hung announcing the winner/s of the 8th Three Shadows Photography Award, Three Shadows Photography Art Centre, Caochangdi, 9 April 2016. (JBT©20160409059)





Opening of  'Immeasurable', the 8th Three Shadows Photography Award
 Exhibition, 9 April 2016 (JBT©20160409073)


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The Exhibition

Guo Guozhu: The Entrance Hall. Three Shadows Photography Award Exhibition, Beijing, 2016

Guo Guozhu: The Entrance Hall. Three Shadows Photography
Award Exhibition, Beijing, 2016



Lam Pok Yin & Chong Ng, The Untimely Apparatus of Two amateur Photograpers. Three Shadows 8th Photography Award Exhibition. (JBT©20160409069)

Lam Pok Yin & Chong Ng, The Untimely Apparatus of Two amateur Photograpers. Three Shadows 8th Photography Award Exhibition. (Photograph courtesy of Three Shadows.)









Wong Chun Keung: Inexperienced Landscape. Three Shadows Photography Award Exhibition, Beijing, 2016

Wong Chun Keung: Inexperienced Landscape. Three Shadows Photography Award Exhibition, Beijing, 2016


Wong Chun Keung: Inexperienced Landscape. Three Shadows Photography Award Exhibition, Beijing, 2016. (Photograph courtesy of Three Shadows)


Wong Chun Keung: Inexperienced Landscape. Three Shadows Photography Award Exhibition, Beijing, 2016



Zeng Rui: Pantheism. Three Shadows Photography Award Exhibition, Beijing, 2016


Zeng Rui: Pantheism. Three Shadows Photography Award Exhibition, Beijing, 2016. (Photograph courtesy of Three Shadows)



Gao Yutao. Two and a half holy things. Three Shadows Photography Award Exhibition, Beijing, 2016
Gao Yutao. Two and a half holy things. Three Shadows Photography Award Exhibition, Beijing, 2016

Gao Yutao. Two and a half holy things. (Detail)  Three Shadows Photography Award Exhibition, Beijing, 2016


Liu Shuwei: Visible Darkness. Three Shadows Photography Award Exhibition.
Beijing, 2016


Liu Shuwei: Visible Darkness. Three Shadows Photography Award Exhibition.
Beijing, 2016 (photograph courtesy of Three Shadows)

Qian Ruya: (Self-portraits). Three Shadows Photography Award Exhibition, Beijing, 2016

Qian Ruya: (Self-portraits). Three Shadows Photography Award Exhibition, Beijing, 2016

Qian Ruya: (Self-portraits). Three Shadows Photography Award Exhibition, Beijing, 2016. (Photograph courtesy of Three Shadows.)



Xin Hong'an. Zhongnan. Three Shadows Photography Award Exhibition, Beijing, 2016


Xin Hong'an. Zhongnan. Three Shadows Photography Award Exhibition, Beijing, 2016. (Photograph courtesy of Three Shadows.)


Zhu Liyue: Wormholes and the memory traveler. Three Shadows Photography Award Exhibition, Beijing, 2016


Zhu Liyue: Wormholes and the memory traveler. Three Shadows Photography
Award Exhibition, Beijing, 2016


Huang Yang: Grief over the Departed - the Proven Past. Three Shadows Photography Award Exhibition, Beijing, 2016
Huang Yang: Grief over the Departed - the Proven Past. Three Shadows Photography Award Exhibition, Beijing, 2016



Zhi Leiying: Pixel. Three Shadows Photography Award Exhibition, Beijing, 2016



Zhi Leiying: Pixel. Three Shadows Photography Award Exhibition, Beijing, 2016
Zhi Leiying: Pixel. Three Shadows Photography Award Exhibition, Beijing, 2016


Zhi Leiying: Pixel. Three Shadows Photography Award Exhibition, Beijing, 2016

Wang Lei: Three Shadows Photography Award Exhibition, Beijing, 2016
Wang Lei: Three Shadows Photography Award Exhibition, Beijing, 2016

Wang Lei: Three Shadows Photography Award Exhibition, Beijing, 2016. (Photograph courtesy of Three Shadows)


Guo Yilin: Still Life.Three Shadows Photography Award Exhibition, Beijing, 2016


Guo Yilin: Still Life.Three Shadows Photography Award Exhibition, Beijing, 2016 (Photograph courtesy of Three Shadows)



Dong Yuxiang: T01_[Z32.45.37] - T06_[UN.1-7].  Three Shadows Photography Award Exhibition, Beijing, 2016


Dong Yuxiang: T01_[Z32.45.37] - T06_[UN.1-7].  Three Shadows Photography Award Exhibition, Beijing, 2016. (Photograph courtesy of Three Shadows)

Dong Yuxiang: T01_[Z32.45.37] - T06_[UN.1-7].  Three Shadows Photography Award Exhibition, Beijing, 2016

Dong Yuxiang: T01_[Z32.45.37] - T06_[UN.1-7].  Three Shadows Photography Award Exhibition, Beijing, 2016



Pu Yun: Altitude 1947. Detail of moving panorama. Three Shadows Photography Award Exhibition, Beijing, 2016
Pu Yun: Altitude 1947. Detail of moving panorama. Three Shadows Photography Award Exhibition, Beijing, 2016
Pu Yun with his exhibition Altiude 1947. Three Shadows Photography Award Exhibition, Beijing, 2016

Ying Chaoxu: The Traces races of Water seeping through the Leaky Wall. Three Shadows Photography Award Exhibition, Beijing, 2016



Ying Chaoxu: The Traces races of Water seeping through the Leaky Wall. Three Shadows Photography Award Exhibition, Beijing, 2016


Ying Chaoxu: The Traces races of Water seeping through the Leaky Wall (detail of large print). Three Shadows Photography Award Exhibition, Beijing, 2016

Leong Chong Lao: Objects of Nothingness.  Three Shadows Photography Award Exhibition, Beijing, 2016

Leong Chong Lao: Objects of Nothingness.  Three Shadows Photography Award Exhibition, Beijing, 2016. (Photograph courtesy of Three Shadows)



Luo Zhizhong: To Yesterday. Three Shadows Photography Award Exhibition, Beijing, 2016


Luo Zhizhong: To Yesterday. Three Shadows Photography Award Exhibition, Beijing, 2016

Luo Zhizhong: To Yesterday. Three Shadows Photography Award Exhibition, Beijing, 2016



Luo Zhizhong: To Yesterday. Three Shadows Photography Award Exhibition, Beijing, 2016



Yang Wenbin: Digital Light Trio. Three Shadows Photography Award Exhibition, Beijing, 2016. (Photograph courtesy of Three Shadows)

Yang Wenbin: Digital Light Trio. Three Shadows Photography Award Exhibition, Beijing, 2016


Yang Wenbin: Digital Light Trio. Three Shadows Photography Award Exhibition, Beijing, 2016




Chen Wenjun & Jiang Yanmei: Me and Me. Three Shadows Photography Award Exhibition, Beijing, 2016

Chen Wenjun & Jiang Yanmei: Me and Me. Three Shadows Photography Award Exhibition, Beijing, 2016. (Photograph courtesy of Three Shadows)



Yan Wang Preston: Mother River. Three Shadows Photography Award Exhibition, Beijing, 2016. (Photograph courtesy of Three Shadows)

Yan Wang Preston: Mother River. Three Shadows Photography Award Exhibition, Beijing, 2016





Jiang Sheng / Xu Xiaodong / Xie Shaojie: The Sheltered Deities. Three Shadows Photography Award Exhibition, Beijing, 2016. (Photograph courtesy Three Shadows)

Jiang Sheng / Xu Xiaodong / Xie Shaojie: The Sheltered Deities. Three Shadows Photography Award Exhibition, Beijing, 2016


Jiang Sheng/ Xu Xiaodong / Xie Shaojie: The Sheltered Deities. Three Shadows Photography Award Exhibition, Beijing, 2016


Gao Lei: Exile of Consciousness. Three Shadows Photography Award Exhibition, Beijing, 2016



Gao Lei: Exile of Consciousness. Three Shadows Photography Award Exhibition, Beijing, 2016





























Gao Lei discussing his work, Exile of Consciousness. Three Shadows Photography Award Exhibition, Beijing, 2016


Huang Zhenwei: Timeless Boundary. Exile of Consciousness. Three Shadows Photography Award Exhibition, Beijing, 2016
Huang Zhenwei: Timeless Boundary. Exile of Consciousness. Three Shadows Photography Award Exhibition, Beijing, 2016



Wang Jiping.: A Peek into Words. Three Shadows Photography Award Exhibition, Beijing, 2016



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Three Shadows 'Chinese Photobook Collection' and revamped +3 Gallery and bookshop revamp

Saturday 9 April was also the debut for Three Shadows' Chinese Photobook Collection. In addition to the books, which included platinum prints editions, a special exhibtion, Luo Bonian & Yang Fudong was opened on the same day in a revamped +3 Gallery space.  What was the bookshop and small cafe is now being used solely to promote and sell limited edition artists's books, Three Shadows own publications, and photographs. Their bookshop has been relocated to their new Three Shadows Photography Art Centre in Xiamen, Rong Rong's home town in Fujian Province, where they have also established an annual festival.


Introduction to 'The Chinese Photobook Collection' exhibition of work by Luo Bonian and Yang Fudong. Three Shadows Photography Art Centre, Beijing, 2016


Luo Bonian, from 'The Chinese Photobook Collection'. Published by Three Shadows
Photography Art Centre, Beijing, 2016. Designed by Satoshi Machiguchi



Yang Fudong, from 'The Chinese Photobook Collection.' Published by Three Shadows
Photography Art Centre, Beijing, 2016. Designed by Satoshi Machiguchi


'The Chinese Photobook Collection. Display of Platinum print editon Luo Bonian, Three Shadows Photography Art Centre, Beijing, 2016

Exhibition of large new prints of work by Luo Bonian. Three Shadows Photography Art Centre, Beijing, 2016


Large new print of work by Luo Bonian, 1930-1940 from exhibition at Three Shadows Photography Art Centre, Beijing, April 2016. (For some inexplicable reason these enlarged versions of Bonian's work were not spotted to remove dust marks and abrasions, as they were for the smaller portfolio set.)



Exhibition of work by Luo Bonian and Yang Fudong. Three Shadows Photography Art Centre, Beijing, 2016


Yang Fudong. Exhibition of work from  'The Chinese Photobook Collection' launched at Three Shadows Photography Art Centre, Beijing, 9 April 2006.
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Three Shadows +3 Gallery and bookshop revamp


Revamped Three Shadows +3 Gallery bookshop, April 2016 (JBT©20160409242)
Revamped Three Shadows +3 Gallery bookshop, April 2016. The first two books, Luo Bonian, and Yang Fudong, in the Three Shadows Photobook Collection series on display with prints by Yangon the wall. (JBT©20160409244)
Revamped Three Shadows +3 Gallery bookshop, April 2016.(JBT©20160409245)

Three Shadows bookshop as it was in July 2014. (JBT©20140726002)