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An exhibition at stageBACK gallery is currently trying to explore that theme and to give that question a few answers. We met the director of the gallery, former model and photographer Susanne Junker.
SH247: You describe “Why don’t you love me anymore” as a ‘recommendation exhibition.’ Can you explain us what this is and how it works?
I was asking people - friends, academics, socialites, people in the art world - to recommend me artists. First I approached the recommenders with this question: “why don’t you love me anymore?” There was an immediate reaction: from that moment we were like a couple figuring out if we could work together.
That was the first step. There were some people who were not into it, you have to deal with being rejected. Like love, rejection happens all the time. It turned to be a big exhibition however: now we have 20 artists exhibiting.
The exhibition is not only about love, it’s about society, it’s about being rejected. It’s also about the art world: you can be a star one day and then the next day you’re gone.
It’s all about changing, ending and having a new start. That’s why I found that wonderful sentence of TS Eliot to illustrate the exhibition: “What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from.”
SH247: Why did you choose that theme?
I needed a red line. I was searching for something that concerns everybody: Chinese, not Chinese, it doesn’t matter, love concerns everybody.
Moreover, the whole idea of romance in China is something that everybody has to deal with. It is also changing the society in China step by step. I found it particularly interesting to do that exhibition now. The title “Why don’t you love me anymore”, taking you to a negative place, gives a reaction to people: it’s not cold, it shows all the love and passion bitterness, I was looking for that.
Now, I am very satisfied with the variety of the artworks in the "LOVE" show. The aim was to not only talk about love in the context of a couple: (Li Zhixiong 李志雄 , Tao Damin 陶大珉) but also in the context of family: (Yilan Yuan 袁綺蘭 ) , friends: (Maleonn 马良 ), sexuality: ( Hu Zi 胡子 , Liu Min 刘敏 ), forgotten and rejected people: ( Shen Shaomin 沈少民, Feng Yan 封 岩), self destruction: ( Zhe Chen 陈哲 ), consumer society ( Mathieu Borysevicz) and the harsh reasons why we don't love anymore ( Secret 7 秘密 7) - to name a few.
SH247: You’re the director of the gallery and also a photographer. Can you tell us more about your background?
I was born in Germany and I worked as a model in Paris in the 90's, started self-portraits and some fashion and still life work but always focusing on photography art work.
Currently, I’m busy working on new project called ‘ID’ whenever I can make time for it. The concept is that I want to capture women while they are putting make up on their face. I realized a few years ago that we make ourselves "ugly" in order to look beautiful or whatever the society thinks is beautiful.
I want to document the “in between” that is invisible in our society, in a world of photo-retouched beauty.
The catch is that the model is not using a mirror while she is applying the make-up, so my camera is the "invisible" mirror. The model can choose whatever she wants to do. It is totally individual. The shots are not retouched after, it is pure reality.
SH247: Which other artists in Shanghai inspire you particularly at the moment?
Chris Gill, [Chinese name Li Yunfei李云飞 ]. We exhibited his works at stageBACK gallery. The last exhibition was “Chris Gill – works on paper” earlier this year.
This artist, originally from the UK, lives in China since more than 20 years: he is an observer of the changes that has happened in China in the last past 20 years and he conducts extensive research into Asian societies. . He expresses this in his city scape Shanghai paintings for example.
SH247: Why did you want to open a gallery in Shanghai? What does the future hold for stageBACK gallery?
I would never think about opening an art gallery in Europe but here, I felt that we needed a place to bring artists together.
Now, I’m trying to continue the exhibitions following those three words that are hanging in my office: “enthusiasm”, “grace”, “conviction”…
-Exhibition until friday, august 31: for more informations see http://www.shanghai247.net/art/event/why-dont-you-love-me-anymore
WORDS: ALICE PAPIN, SUSANNE JUNKER
PICTURES: ALICE PAPIN