“Every day we need something to do. So we take pictures.”
Song Tao (born 1979) und Ji Weiyu (born 1980) joined together as the artistic alliance Birdhead in 2004. They have known each other since their student years at the famous Shanghai Arts and Crafts School and both graduated in 2000. Today they are considered part of China‘s art scene‘s shooting stars and have received a lot of praise for their distinctive and thought-provoking photographs and videos.
They often deliberately use a ’snapshot aesthetics’ and capture every facet of their modern daily life with their camera against the vast urban backdrop of their home city Shanghai. That results in being compared to photo artists like Wolfgang Tillmans or Nan Goldin. They mostly work in series, either in black and white or in colour and sometimes combine their works with poems, which then become part of their photo installations.
Since the mid 1990s Birdhead has vastly successive exhibited their work internationally: New Acquisitions, Museum of Modern Art (2012), 54. Venice Biennale (2011), Welcome to the World of BIRD HEAD Again – 2010, Guangzhou (2010), China Power Station – part 4, Pinacoteca Agnelli, Turin (2010); Reversed Images, Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago (2009).
“Zhongshan Park” was first shown at Birdhead’s solo exhibition with their main gallery Shanghart in 2008 together with a larger installation called “landscape”, which consisted of five different platforms that were dedicated to the imagery of Shanghai: the city captured photographically in a both poetic and realistic form of aesthetic. The show consisted of tableaus that each told a different story about contemporary life in this fast changing urban environment. For the artists themselves this approach meant a kind of “memory creation”.
The photograph “Zhongshan Park” is a-wide-angle-shot that is divided in two parts. On the right side it captures kites, kids, parents, and old men on the green meadow of the well-known park in the centre of Shanghai. Among them is a common girl taking a portrait shot of herself, pictured on the right. In this girl‘s world she herself is the centre, she is the landscape. But from Birdhead‘s perspective she is just the periphery.
For Birdhead not one single photograph is important but the summation of many different ones. Each of them is only a fragment of a greater picture, which is always connected to Shanghai: “We happen to live in Shanghai, that’s where we are from, so our emotions are engaged with that place. When we first started having contact with photography and cameras 10 years ago, and we started looking at photos, we realized that every city has their great photographer.” For many this also holds true for Birdhead.