Jiali Gallery (4 Beijixiang hutong, Dongcheng District, Beijing) Mar 15 – Apr 26, 2014
The new exhibition at Jiali Gallery presents photographs by Ma Yongfeng. Almost without exception, these monochrome gelatin prints feature a focal image immersed in a black pool of background; context and situation have been removed—or denied.
The assembled images do not grasp one’s attention, but manage steadily to secure it. “Fragment” is an overused word implying accident and detachment; this is, rather, a deliberate and economical selection with a poetic ambience. At times, the images are very direct—for example the anomalous close-up of female genitals, and at others more vague, as is true for a view of bamboo stalks. On its own, a photograph showing just the side of the head of a Buddha statue, a view into a cavern grown over with coral or the line of a stream down a rocky slope might be incidental; but together, these little views (not altogether without a sense of nostalgia) succeed in drawing the eye in.
The result is a noiseless exhibition which encourages slow inspection within the sheltered space of the gallery. As such, it is somewhat out of turn with the sort of practices Ma Yongfeng is known for as a prominent member of the “Forget Art” collective, who pursue open creative activities outside the fixed site of an institution or gallery, and using ordinary, daily materials or actions. “Suspending”, then, could apply as much to these photographs’ relationship to Ma’s other work as to the feel of the show—for which this title is apt.