Pingyao Holds International Photography Exhibition for Cross-Cultural Communication

The 22nd Pingyao International Photography Festival kicks off in Pingyao, Shanxi province, Sept. 19, 2022. Photo: VCG

One autumn morning, Shi Hui, a photographer from southwest China’s Chongqing Municipality, came to the exhibition area of ​​the former diesel engine factory in the ancient city of Pingyao in Shanxi province (northern China). “It’s a good opportunity to learn from photographers all over the country and the world, which can inspire me about composition, angle and innovation,” Shi said.

A teacher at the Sichuan Institute of Fine Arts, Shi came to Pingyao for the 10th time to participate in the Pingyao International Photography Festival (PIP). This time, he brought the works of teachers and students from more than 10 local universities to the festival for exchange.

The 22nd PIP Festival kicked off on September 19 in Pingyao, a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site known for its well-preserved ancient architecture, in Shanxi Province.

With the theme “A world of shadow and light, for a bright shared future”, the week-long festival in 2022 attracted more than 12,000 works by 1,200 photographers from 28 countries and regions.

Launched in 2001, the annual festival has attracted photographers from over 100 countries and regions and is considered an important platform for cross-cultural communication.

“Every time I go to Pingyao, I find something new and different,” said Susan Dooley, an American curator. When she first came to Pingyao more than 10 years ago, the condition of the ancient city was not very good, and the exhibition hall was rather old.

Nowadays, the photography exhibition area is spacious and bright, the ancient city is classic and elegant, and there are theaters, shopping malls and a high-speed train station, which gives Dooley and her husband the feeling that it is a cosmopolitan place.

“The successful application of Pingyao Ancient City as a World Heritage Site in 1997 opened a window. It was PIP that really brought this city into the world.” Wu Xiaodong, who has participated in the planning of more than a dozen photography festivals, said that many Chinese photographers’ works have passed from Pingyao to the international scene, and foreign photography works have also entered the vision of the Chinese public in Pingyao.

“Each stage of PIP is a pioneer and practitioner, embracing each photographer’s imagination,” said Zhang Guotian, Artistic Director of PIP Festival.

In the “Young Chinese Photographer Promotion Plan” section, a thematic exhibition titled “Pixel” attracts passing visitors. The black and white of the giant exhibition wall photo showed how countless grid pixels make up unique stories.

Wei Wentao, a photographer who returned from overseas, said the works were exhibited and displayed in the darkroom, showing people posting the cellphone screen repeatedly on social media, leaving virtual and real images. overlapping.

Sun Xiaolu, who was a photographer when she was a student and is now a university teacher, witnessed the importance of PIP for photographers and curators.

“Pingyao has become a cultural brand that embodies Chinese photography and even world photography,” said Sun, who again participated in PIP as the curator of a women-themed exhibition.

Thanks to modern light and shadow technology, the ancient city of Pingyao has rapidly built up its reputation and influence at home and abroad.

As the photography exhibition goes global, it has also injected new energy into local development in Pingyao and brought about great changes.

Zhang Shuai, manager of Jinsheng Food Shop, an age-old brand located on South Street in the ancient city, said that during the PIP, there were more tourists and customers. Many customers tried his products and bought them again online.

Xiao Sanyuan, a native of Pingyao who used to be a passenger car driver and later worked as a booth builder at PIP, is now in charge of an exhibition service company. “The festival changed my life,” said Xiao, whose photographs were exhibited at PIP.


Tracey L. Sweeney