A young woman wades dreamily into a lily pond. A boy wearing a helmet and carrying a toy rifle slides happily down a bannister. Two withered hands hold out four withered pieces of fruit.
These are among the photos in an exhibition titled "Unseen" displaying another side of life and human nature, revealing what is important but usually hidden or unrecognized.
The exhibition of international photography at the Museum of Contemporary Art Shanghai features the work of 10 young artists from around the world.
"We aim to showcase young talented overseas artists to both local visitors and their photography peers in China," says curator Peng Yangjun. "We can see what they are keen about, how they view their own living situation and how they see the truth beneath the surface. Their artworks show us a different world view."
German photographer Julia Fullerton-Batten's work delves into the daydreaming of teenage girls and the complex and sensitive issue of adolescence. (photo: from Shanghai Daily)
A number of the photographers are internationally honored and their works collected by prestigious art institutions worldwide.
The participating artists are Ashley Gilbertson (US), Camille Vivier (France), Charles Freger (France), Jacob Aue Sobol (Denmark), Julia Fullerton-Batten (Germany), Martin Kollar (Slovak Republic), Mikhael Subotzky (South Africa), Rafal Milach (Poland), Lieko Shiga (Japan) and Simon Roberts (England).
Daydreaming teenage girls in surreal settings inhabit Fullerton-Batten's works. She emphasizes the significance of dreaming in a young girl's life. One shot shows a girl wading into a lily pond, idly holding a fish net. A modern bridge is evident in the background.
It is a theme which explores how, for a while in her young life, a girl's imaginary world seems bigger, grander and more real than her own mundane suburban surroundings. The fantasy aura in Fullerton-Batten's work is strengthened by unusual lighting and elements that make the scenes unexpectedly ambiguous.
"Adolescence is a complex and sensitive age when teenage girls especially start seeing themselves in the context of society and questioning their identity," Fullerton-Batten says.
She says the series reflects a time of unease and expectation and calls it an autobiographical reflection of her own adolescence, interpreted many years later through her adult eye and camera.
English photographer Roberts takes on the topic "Motherland" in his series of intimate portraits of contemporary Russians. They reveal a diverse people, united by a sense of common identity and connected by a shared love of Mother Russia.
In 2004, Roberts began a year's journey across Russia, starting in its Far East and moving west across 75,000 kilometers.
He shot pictures in more than 200 locations and created one of the most comprehensive photographic records of the vast country through the eye of a Westerner.
Titled "Nothing Special," Martin Kollar's photos are quite the opposite. He photographs people in their spare time, kicking back when they are free to do as they please.
"I've been focused on the newly established middle-class. I was trying to capture the change of behavior of the people in Eastern Europe," says the photographer from the Slovak Republic. "The system of values is changing and so are the people and their attitudes."
An poignant example of Polish photographer Rafal Milach's work which is on display in the "Unseen'' exhibition.
For many visitors the glimpse of other countries far away may seem alien and mysterious, but the feelings and situations evoked are universal.
"'Unseen' is actually seeing through others' experience and interpretations," curator Peng says.
Date: through March 18, 10am-6pm
Address: Gate 7, People's Park, 231 Nanjing Rd W., Shanghai
Admission: 20 yuan
(Shanghai Daily February 1, 2008)