Three Shadows Photography Centre is situated in the newest art district in Beijing, Cao Chang Di. The centre is amazing, designed by Ai Wei Wei it is an extraordinary shape with a peaceful courtyard in the middle, a large gallery, a library and a café/ shop. I met Rong Rong and Unri the founders and directors who are both high profile photographers. They set up Three Shadows with their own money, the aim to advance understanding of international contemporary photography and support the development of photographic practice within China. Without public funding this is no mean feat! They are supported by a very impressive advisory panel made up of photography specialists and curators based around the world.
I spent most of my time at Three Shadows with the International Program Manager Jillian Schultz, an American who has been living in China long enough to be fluent in Mandarin; and is highly knowledgeable of the photographic arts both in China and internationally. She explained that there is no public funding in China for arts organisations so they have to create different business models to the ones we’re familiar with in the UK, in this case, the majority of the money to run Three Shadows comes from the directors. However, this is a struggle and they constantly seek new income streams: most recently, hiring their space out for events and weddings, which now covers the costs of running the facilities.
This was a fascinating discussion and I felt very privileged to meet Rong Rong a prominent photographer, who documented the activities of the artists living in the East village in Beijing during the 80s before they became internationally famous.