LOOK Photo Biennial 2019 uses the evolving language of photography to unlock international dialogue. The programme sets out to bring different cultures into conversation to reflect on shifting national identities, worldwide environmental issues and how we can communicate effectively. Globally, many countries are reinforcing their borders and turning increasingly inwards, but a collective international awareness is also on the rise.
Set within Birkenhead Priory, FOREST looks at the modern Chinese practice of moving ancient trees into new places, or planting trees in climates that do not welcome them. In recent years, developers in China have been transplanting old trees into new leisure developments, in an attempt to create a feeling of ready-made authenticity.
Amid China’s rapid development and mass construction of megacities, the exhibition captures the contemporary process of attempting to transplant the natural world into urban environments — of trying to cover up the newness of new developments.
The exhibition’s location at Birkenhead Priory resonates on many levels. Nestled on the River Mersey, Birkenhead’s rise as an international ship building powerhouse wedded the town to international tides of production, trade and cultural exchange. And in the context of utilising green space to add authenticity to developments, Birkenhead Priory’s position as an oasis of greenery and tranquility within a mass of ship building and heavy industry provides the perfect juxtaposition to Yan Wang Preston’s work, flipping the Chinese experience into reverse.
For Future Yard Festival 2019, Yan Wang Preston’s Forest will be introduced through a Q&A with LOOK Photo Biennial Curator Thomas Dukes.