Chen Ronghui: Postcards from America: Screening Event

17 July 2021 

July 17th, 2021

Curator & Artist Tour:
6:00 – 6:30 P.M.

6:30 – 8:30 P.M.

Location: 65 E 80TH ST, NEW YORK, NY 10075


Freezing Land (2016-2019)

From the series “Freezing Land” © Chen Ronghui

From the series “Freezing Land” © Chen Ronghui


We’re used to thinking of Chinese cities in the context of growth, but the country’s northeast region is an exception. The region bordering Russia and North Korea, with ample natural resources, was the first to develop heavy industries in the 1960s and prospered for decades. There were 15 million immigrants to northeastern China in Mao’s era.


But since the 2000s, the northeast region has suffered the worst recession in China as resources dwindle and other regions have caught up economically. Dying industries and shortages of opportunities have forced people to leave their homes and pursue work in other parts of China.


The body of work titled Freezing Land investigates descendants of immigrants living in the northeast. It is difficult to encounter subjects on the street when the typical temperature is minus 30 degrees centigrade. Therefore, I used a social video app, Kuai shou, to seek out young people willing to share their stories. The young people I met were experiencing a sense of uncertainty. They faced a choice: to leave for challenges in bigger cities or to stay behind and embrace their fate. Chinese media and others have documented their voices only sparsely. Few people knew about their stories, colorful, yet full of loneliness.


I also photographed the derelict landscape—once-lively places, now forgotten. During this process, the emotions these young people expressed—a mixture of hesitation, loneliness, and hope—resonates with my own feelings about leaving.
— Chen Ronghui


From the series “Freezing Land” © Chen Ronghui


2020 PhotoBook Awards Shortlist: First PhotoBook, Aperture foundation & Paris Photo (Dec.2020)
Nominee, C/O Berlin TALENT AWARD (Feburary 2019)
Finalists, The Emerging Photographer Fund, Burn Magazine 2018 (December 2018)
Winner,Photography, China National Art Funds (December 2018)
Juror’s Picks, Lensculture Emerging Talents 2018 (October 2018)
1st place, PDN storyteller (September 2018)
Winner, 10th Three Shadows Photography Award & ALPA prize (March 2018)
Nominee, Foam Paul Huf Award, Foam Fotografiemuseum Amsterdam (March 2018)
Winner, 6th Hou Dengke Documentary Photography Award (November 2017)


Flowing Waters Never Return to the Source: Photographers Gazing at the River in China, Jumièges Abbey (November 2020)
Solo exhibition, Land of Ambition, +3 Gallery Beijing (September 2020)
China Imaged, Breda Photo 2020 (September 2020)
Solo exhibition, Freezing Land, UP Gallery (May 2020)
Being of Evils, Hive, Beijing (April 2020)
ABOUT US. Young Photography from China, Alexander Tutsek-Stiftung, Munich (March 2020)
Photo London, UP Gallery(May 2019)
Format Festival, UK (March 2019)
Contemporary Chinese Photography, Angkor Photo Festival (January 2019)
FIELD MEETING, Asia Contemporary Art Week, Dubai (January 2019)
40 Years of Chinese Contemporary Photography, OCAT (September 2018)
Solo exhibition, Freezing Land, Photography Museum of Lishui, China (May 2018)
Solo exhibition, Freezing Land, Modern Art Base, Shanghai (April 2018)


Postcards from America(Dual Self-Portraits) 

From the series “Postcards from America (Dual Self-Portraits)” © Chen Ronghui


Postcards from America(Dual Self-Portraits) is the first time for the artist Chen Ronghui to use selfie in artistic practice. The artist uses the dual camera function of his smartphone (front and rear cameras open at the same time) to take a selfie, which records the artist’s personal changes and the scene that the artist’s eyes see at that moment. On the back of these postcards, the artist wrote down his daily thoughts and reflections and made postcards together with photos of the diaries written by Yung Wing, the first Chinese student to come to the United States.