China by Scott Conarroe

Canadian photographer Scott Conarroe is showcasing his third solo exhibition at the Stephen Bulgar Gallery entitled “China”. When Conarroe first visited Beijing in the wake of the 2008 Summer Olympics. He returned to China briefly the following year and in 2012 he began photographing that nation against the backdrop of a railway expansion that rivals America’s Interstates in both scope and intent. With imagery from this ongoing study, some earlier impressions, and a surprising new strain of street work, “China” describes a vast historical moment shot through with human-scale dramas.

Conarroe_Village Pool Beigao_2008

Conarroe has ranged some twenty provinces by rail. Over thousands of shoulder-to-shoulder and knee-to-knee kilometres he has learned to make primitive small talk and to recede from focus. His view is certainly an outsider’s, but even the landscapes in this exhibition contain instances of unguardedness; village men idling at billiards, while closer in, his tableaux of proletariat ennui, a prosperous couple fighting read as stills from a well-produced cinematic feature. The West has been exposed to many iterations of China in recent years: grandiose, tragic, inspiring, infuriating, backwards and futuristic. Each reflects degrees of truth and each leaves something to be desired. Conarroe’s China considers the casual yenning of people who live between those extremes.

Conarroe_Kick Beijing_2012

First image, Sheaf Ladies, Jinzhai Anhui, 2012
© Scott Conarroe / Courtesy of Stephen Bulger Gallery

Second image, Village Pool, Beigao Beijing, 2008
© Scott Conarroe / Courtesy of Stephen Bulger Gallery

Third image, Kick, Beijing, 2012
© Scott Conarroe / Courtesy of Stephen Bulger Gallery

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