Dutch Culture Night 6: Artist Talk by Ruben Lundgren

In May and June I organized the last of a series of film screenings. CERES is a poetic and tangible documentary that follows four children as they experience the natural cycle of life on a farm. Each child lives on a remote farm in the southwest of The Netherlands. They are learning the profession of their ancestors from a young age. They dream that one day they will take over the farm of their father.


I liked showing it in Yunnan – also a rural southwestern region, and children here also face the choice of staying in the countryside or going to the big city to pursue a career. Of course there are big differences between the regions, and we talked about those too.

This was the last one of the film screenings that were part of the first Dutch Culture Nights in Yunnan. Events with live speakers allow for more interaction between speaker and audience. I’m still working on a report of the last PechaKucha Night Dali – Pattern Recognition. This report with subtitled videos of every talk will show how international and local designers and the audience connected and got inspired.

Artist Talk: Dutch photographer Ruben Lundgren

The first quarter of the year was about fashion. A film screening with video shorts of work by Iris van Herpen and the aforementioned PechaKucha Night. The second quarter is all about photography. This coming weekend Ruben Lundgren – a Beijng-based Dutch photographer – will do his Tour de Yunnan, delivering an artist talk in Kunming, Xizhou and Dali.

Beijing based photographer and curator Ruben Lundgren graduated from the University of the Arts Utrecht in 2005. After graduation, he moved to China where he finished his masters degree photography at the Central Academy of Fine Arts. He made a name within the conceptual photography duo WassinkLundgren with publications as Empty Bottles (2007) and Tokyo Tokyo (2010). FOAM showed a retrospect of their work in 2013.

Photographs are collected by various private and public collections. They have also been exhibited at international galleries and museums including FOAM photography museum (Amsterdam), The Archive of Modern Conflict (London) and Ullens Centre for Contemporary Art(Beijing).

Three Chinese photobooks

He now works as a photojournalist for Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant and as an independent curator of Chinese photography. Together with Martin Parr he co-edited The Chinese Photobook (2015), and he continues to research and publish on Chinese photobooks.

For hist most recent publication Real Dreams he immersed himself in the Chinese news cycle for six years. The photobook starts with a century old quote. Writer J.R. Chitty explains that China, within the Western mind, is choked with the most ‘ludicrous incongruities’ that need to be assimilated before one can come close to understanding the country.

The photographs provide an exceptional wide-range of visual incongruities taken all over the most populous and fastest changing nation on earth. From a robotic bartender, full-automatic pet dryer, to an alien whiskey salesman. The book gives a wholly original and humorous insight into present-day China on the basis of this absurd facade. Recurring themes in the work are the eager embrace of technology, the changing political climate and the malleability of photojournalism.

Real Dreams

During his talk he will also showcase the work of Ellen Thorbecke. She was a photo journalist and the wife of a Dutch ambassador in China in the 1930s. Lundgren compiled the monograph “Ellen Thorbecke: From Peking to Paris” in collaboration with Rik Suermondt, art historian and discoverer of Thorbecke’s archive. The book shows rare images of daily life in Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Paris and the Middle East in the 1930s and 1940s. These were the places where Thorbecke lived and worked during her lifetime.

Ellen Thorbecke

We are looking forward to three evenings with an engaging speaker and a unique visual dialogue – or rather a lens – between the Netherlands and China.

Next up: PechaKucha Dali 2 – Architecture

I just got the green light to go ahead and start production on two more big events! The next PechaKucha Night Dali will feature Dutch and Chinese architects. The last event of this year will be an Artist Talk and dance workshops with Kevin Polak. He was previously a dancer with the Nederlands Dans Theater and has been working as a human contact improvisation teacher and choreographer in China for years.

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