In 2013 the Arts Foundation of the Free State of Saxony and the Goethe-Institut China, in association with the Red Gate Gallery, launched an artists-in-residence programme in China. In its first year, the residency was offered to visual artist Arthur Zalewski.
Arthur Zalewski was born in 1971 in Poland. He studied fine arts and art photography at the Hochschule für Grafik und Buchkunst in Leipzig and taught photography in the graphic and design department. He is now based in Leipzig. His artistic approach seeks opportunities to explore cultural, social and historical processes directly on location and give them visual form. So photographic engagement with specific places is essential to this approach. He places his artistic practice at the interface between documentation, conceptual development and autonomous form.
During his 12-week residency, Zalewski took a great many pictures of people and places in the city, as well giving a talk, at the invitation of the photography magazine LENS, at what was then the LENS Space in Beijing. Referring to projects developed in recent years in collaboration with other authors, graphic designers and institutions, he talked about authorship and the importance of books, objects and forms in photography.
Then, in the summer of 2014, Zalewski put together an exhibition entitled Notes on Beijing at the ASPN Gallery in Leipzig:
Notes on Beijing focuses less on representative meanings than on probing everyday life and historical context. Day-to-day existence, beyond politics, culture and history, seems the same everywhere. The pictures show a reality we seem to know.[…] The fragments reflect real life and the artist’s experience on location: they do not draw a consistent picture of the city or the people, let alone the country. (Maik Schlüter, critic, 2014)